announced October 5, 2023
East Burke Village was the place to be on Saturday, September 30th. The 34th Annual Burke Fall Festival drew a large crowd of locals and visitors to the village for a full day of activities including a parade, craft fair, barbeque, music, pony rides and more. The festival is hosted and organized by the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce.
One of the highlights of the event each year is the presentation of the Burke Citizen of the Year award. The purpose of the award is to honor a community member who has shown outstanding dedication, leadership and action to help unite & engage residents of Burke to better the community. It’s always a surprise for the winner.
This year, Burke Chamber President, John Kascenska surprised Tammy Wagner of West Burke with the 2023 Burke Citizen of the Year award.
“Tammy has been a volunteer member of the Burke Chamber for many years. To the best of our knowledge, she joined the Burke Area Chamber of Commerce Board 15 years ago; and after a short time away returned to serve the Chamber and her community -- always providing thoughtful ideas and perspectives to best serve our member businesses and community at large,” said Kascenska. “Tammy is also a long-time volunteer at the fall festival -- serving in many roles at this very event including managing the festival information booth for the past several years.”
In addition to her role with the Burke Chamber, Wagner was also one of the first people to get involved with One Burke and the task force working on infrastructure improvements and revitalizing West Burke Village. “Her quiet leadership and thoughtful approach to community issues has played a vital role in the progress the group has made over the years,” said Kascenska. Wagner has also been an active volunteer with the Eastern Star Group and the West Burke United Methodist Church among other local organizations.
Although the award is a surprise for the winner, it is not a surprise to their family members. Each year the Burke Chamber contacts their family to let them know the when and where of the award presentation so they can attend and make sure the winner is there without knowing why (although in this case, the winner was already volunteering at the festival). The award is meant to recognize someone who stays under the radar while quietly giving back to the community without expectation of reward or public acknowledgement. Said Burke Chamber Administrator, Laura Malieswski, “Tammy definitely fits this bill. When asked about her other acts of volunteerism, her immediate family members did not even know everything she does, saying she is ‘reserved about all that’.”
It was in this reserved fashion that Wagner accepted the award with a simple, “thank you very much” as she posed for photos with Kascenska and her family before quickly returning to her volunteer duties at the festival information booth.