Ryan Fairchild named Chamber’s NextGen Leader of the Year
Leader of the Year
Change is brewing in Great Bend, and Ryan Fairchild wants to keep the energy level at a boil with his knack for marrying his passions and hobbies with a thirst to see Great Bend thriving.
This drive to move our community forward and the steps he has taken to that end has earned him the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce 2020 NextGen Leader of the Year Award.
When thinking about Ryan, the first thing that comes to mind for many is Bike Brew Q, a five-year-running staple event in Barton County that features bike rides, a beer expo, and food trucks. Ryan conceptualized the event in 2016 and has grown it ever since with the help of close friend Joe Vinduska and other volunteers.
“When starting Bike Brew Q, he decided to keep it in the Great Bend area because he felt that it would benefit Great Bend; he felt that this type of event was lacking in our community,” said his wife, Marisa. “And it certainly has been a benefit, with many people traveling hours to attend.”
The initial motivation for the event was simply to add another element of culture to Great Bend, creating a top-notch experience for residents and a draw for visitors, but Ryan doesn’t stop at setting just one goal when he begins a new initiative. Combined with its sister event Pumpkin Smash held in the fall, Bike Brew Q raises more than $10,000 a year to support the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), a cause near and dear to his heart as his wife, brother in law, and cousin live with the genetic respiratory disease. The CFF raises funds to support the search for a cure.
His efforts recently earned him the 2019 Next Generation Award from the Heart of America Chapter of the CFF.
If Bike Brew Q isn’t the first thing that comes up when Ryan is mentioned, it’s likely his
not-so-little project happening on Main Street in the former Brown’s Shoe Fit building. Ryan and friend-and-business-partner Kevin Burkey of Hoisington have put action to their dream of opening a brewery. Once again, the focus isn’t solely on his own ambitions, but a bigger-picture desire to enhance Great Bend.
“Ryan is creating a meaningful impact due to his desire to improve our town,” Marisa said. “His hope is that the brewery will help to revive the downtown area and provide a place for families to gather.”
The local brew-master has also left his mark on other events and organizations in Great Bend. He is active on the Great Bend Better than Great Steering Committee, has served on the Young Professionals Steering Committee and action teams, initiated the Third Thursday Food Truck events in conjunction with the Great Bend Farmer’s Market, volunteers with Cram the Van, added a craft brewing demonstration to June Jaunt and has supported and volunteered for the Flatlander Half Marathon, which raises awareness and funds to enhance health and wellness in Barton County.
“He makes things happen,” said friend and Bike Brew Q co-planner Joe Vinduska. “If you come to him with a problem, he will show you that it’s only a problem until he finds the solution. There have been a lot of obstacles along the way but he always finds a way to traverse them while remaining calm and collected. He will do anything to help a friend, and he will do it with a positive attitude and usually will also be cracking jokes all the way. He cares about the future of this community. He wants to keep improving the experience for people that live here and come to visit.”
Ryan works at Innovative Livestock Services and operates a couple of side businesses. He is raising two girls, Emma, 3, and Annalynn, 8, with his wife of 11 years, who echoed Joe’s sentiments, underscoring the strength of his resolve and quality of his character.
“He is brave, outgoing… he can talk to anyone,” Marisa said. “He’s always willing to take on new challenges and determined to succeed - don't tell him he can't do something. He’s always willing to help, kind, compassionate, creative, and hard-working.”
Nex-Gen Leader of the Year Criteria
The “NextGen Leader of the Year” Award is an annual award presented by the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce with nominations submitted from the Barton County Young Professionals. The Award shines a light on a rising leader between the suggested ages of 21-40ish who has created a meaningful impact in the community and work environment.
Previous NextGen Leader of the Year Award Recipients
2018 Rachel Mawhirter
2017 Jason Mayers
2016 Regan Reif
2015 Matt Hiss