DIXON – The VFW wants to become a destination.
Since new manager Lisa Messier took over in March, with a whole new chain of command, the Dixon VFW Post 540, 1560 Franklin Grove Road, is pushing for more community outreach projects and involvement.
Messier, 34, is retired from the Air Force, her husband Gerry still is in the military, and her father is a veteran, so she says she knows the importance of the VFW providing support to veterans and outreach to the community.
"That's what we're here for," she said.
For starters, the banquet hall has been overhauled. The hall was painted, new furniture was added and a new ceiling installed.
Under previous management, event planning fell to the wayside and the kitchen was not as organized, the 34-year-old Messier said.
"We want to make it more appeasing to more agencies," Messier said. "We've started to bring in more bands and we're hosting more events."
One of those events includes a "guitars for vets" program. Bands such as Falling Rock, the Honey Badgers and Robbie LeBlanc have performed at the VFW.
"We want to try to bring the nightlife back up," Messier said. "We've hired a younger staff and it's been a huge thing for us to bring more people back in."
The kitchen is open to the public full time as well, highlighted by Friday night fish frys from 5 to 8 and Thursday night cookouts on the patio from 5 to 7 p.m.
The VFW still has karaoke on the patio from 7 to 11 p.m. every other Friday, as well as bingo on the first and third Sunday of the month.
Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except on Sundays when the kitchen closes at 2 p.m.
Messier said she is working hard to bring Toys for Tots back to the VFW.
"We're getting packed a couple of nights," Messier said. "The fish fry has really taken off."
A new chain of command – Commander Tom Bushman, President Dan Ruckman, and Quartermaster Mike Kuba – have helped bring about change.
"For me that's the biggest thing that needs to be highlighted," Messier said. "Things are changing out here."