A Story County organization is bringing food, drinks and live entertainment to Reiman Gardens every month for the rest of 2019.
FUEL Story County, formerly known as YP Ames, is a 15-year-old organization formed for Story County professionals. The group, which is affiliated with the Ames Chamber of Commerce, offers residents of Story County opportunities to network, support local businesses and attend professional development programs and events.
According to a FUEL press release, “[their] vision is to fuel and unite engaged leaders in Story County through leadership and professional development, community outreach and partnerships and social events."
The group, which is made up of more than 150 professionals, will put on the inaugural FUEL Fest on May 30 from 6-8 p.m. The event will take place at Reiman Gardens, located near Jack Trice Stadium.
FUEL Fest will provide food from Smiles; Gyros and Super Dogs, the Pint Sized Ice Cream food truck and the Gateway Hotel & Conference Center. The event will feature live music entertainment from Erik Timmons, who will perform a variety of guitar-centric tunes. The artist’s folk-flavored style will serve as the soundtrack to the night’s social setting.
Admission to the event will cost $5 for anyone older than 15. Members of FUEL do not have to pay an entrance fee. Admission to the event and transactions with Gateway Hotel & Conference Center are cash only, while Smiles; Gyros and Super Dogs and Pint Sized Ice Cream will accept cards.
FUEL Fest comes on the heels of a large rebrand by the organization.
“We were ready for a rebrand,” FUEL Story County President Melissa Muschick said. “There were bad connotations with the group because of the old name. People outside of Ames saw the name and would think that they couldn’t join because they didn’t live in Ames. We also reduced the membership price by almost half; from $65 to $35.”
This month’s FUEL Fest is the first of its kind, but certainly will not be the last. A FUEL Fest event is planned for the last Thursday of every month. Each event will feature various Story County-based food vendors and musicians. A Halloween event is in the works with a more established headlining act.
FUEL Fest is part of the organization’s broad effort to recreate its image. The group had previously been perceived as an exclusive group of business professionals. The group’s “40-and-under rule” also pinched membership numbers.
“We started to create more programming and events to get our name out there,” Muschick said. “We partnered with non-profits and started doing more volunteer work. We’re trying to become more inclusive and look at different platforms.”
Although the event aims to boost membership, it also serves as an opportunity for Story County residents to visit and support local businesses.
Upcoming FUEL Fests are scheduled for June 27, July 25, August 29 and September 26.