BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Corina Pfleghaar usually spends the last Saturday of September running interference with vendors, performers and parade participants.
But as the annual Roche de Boeuf Festival kicks off on Saturday, September 24, the 36-year Waterville resident will have a different role this year: grand marshal of the parade.
As the Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director from October 2010 until December 2021, Corina made quite a difference in the organization and the city, said chamber president Carla Lammers. So when it came time for the committee to choose a grand marshal, Corina was an obvious choice.
“Corina did a tremendous job for the last 11 years, building up the chamber into what it is today,” Lammers said.
Jackie Lehman, who took over as executive director in November 2021, agrees.
“Corina put a lot of time, energy and creativity into the chamber,” Lehman said.
As she rides aboard a Jeep, Corina will be joined by her husband, Matt, who was a built-in volunteer for the festival and the other chamber-sponsored events in the past decade.
Matt and Corina had been married just a year when they drove through Waterville one Sunday in 1986.
“I thought it was such a cute town,” Corina said. “We saw a house for sale and put an offer on it.”
As their family grew to include three children – Mindy, Zach and Jordan – Corina got involved with Anthony Wayne Local Schools and the community. After 22 years of working at St. Luke’s Hospital, she launched her own business and began volunteering for the chamber – including during the Roche de Boeuf Festival.
When the chamber had an opening for an executive director in 2010, Corina was hired. At the time, membership was 123. She made it her goal to visit every local business to tell them about the benefits, while also adding events that would showcase the chamber and the business community. By the time Lehman took over last year, membership had grown to 350.
Corina credits the contributions of chamber members who volunteer for boards and committees. That first year, Sam Ansara, Louann Artiaga, Ken Blair, Dave Boothe and Phyllis Hyder were on her team.
“Without them, there wouldn’t have been a festival. They were the glue,” Corina said of the yearly festivals she organized – sans 2020. “With the chamber, it’s not one person. It’s the core group of board members and volunteers that makes the chamber successful. It’s everyone working together to make the connections and help each other out.”
During her tenure, the chamber added events like the Boo to Do, the Let It Glow holiday lighting contest, Rock the Block and a golf outing. A pub crawl and wine and art auction were also part of the mix for several years.
Waterville has also grown since becoming a city in 2011. Shawn’s Irish Tavern now occupies a former grocery store. Chowders ‘N Moor moved. Other businesses have moved into downtown Waterville, and an entire new business area has developed along Pray Boulevard near the US 24/SR 64 interchange.
“Businesses have really prospered in the area. The growth has been awesome to see,” she said. “We can’t keep Waterville a secret forever.”
As she rides through the parade, Corina expects to see some of the many new friends she’s made through the chamber. It’s that welcoming atmosphere that makes the city special, she said.
“It still has a small-town feel even though we’re a city. People still know each other and say hi,” she said.
As for her new adventures, Corina will continue to work with the separate Chamber Discoveries, which hosts vacation trips around the world, such as this October’s trek to Italy and next year’s trip to Portugal.
She’ll also remain involved in Fallen Timbers Family Recreation Club, as both she and Matt are avid tennis players and he serves as the club’s board president.
The annual Roche de Boeuf Festival will take place in downtown Waterville on Saturday, September 24 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the parade stepping off at 10:00 a.m. For more information, read The Mirror on Thursday, September 22 or visit www.watervillechamber.com.