Good afternoon NMC community,

We have some important news to share with you about one of our college’s oldest traditions. After 65 years and nearly $2 million of projects funded, Northwestern Michigan College and the Oleson Foundation have made the decision that 2020 will be the final year of the NMC BBQ event. Despite the change, the Oleson Foundation remains dedicated to supporting our students and the College will continue the strong community connection established through the event’s proud history.

Throughout the decades, many of you have given countless hours of your time, in all kinds of weather (including snow, occasionally) to make the BBQ a success. For years, it served as an “open house” where we could invite our neighbors, friends and family to come to our college and see the amazing people, programs and places that make us all so proud. Thank you for that work. It is because of you that the connection to our community, and the support of our College and students remains strong today.

“We’ve come a long way in 65 years since the Oleson family and the community first joined together to help build our community’s college. We have accomplished much and our college and region have grown and changed considerably over the years,” said Brad Oleson, NMC BBQ committee member. “As we reflect on that success, we feel now is a great opportunity to look toward the future for new ways to support the college as our students’ needs, and our community, continue to grow and change. We celebrate what we have done together and are excited to extend that path into the future to benefit our students, our college and our community for years to come.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the Oleson family’s commitment to Northwestern Michigan College. Our college might not be here today if it wasn’t for their vision and dedication,” said Dr. Nick Nissley, president of NMC. “The Olesons and the BBQ not only rallied support and resources over the years, but allowed us to open our campus to the community to celebrate all that we’ve done together for our students. I am confident we will continue the spirit of the BBQ and Oleson family for many years to come and I look forward to it.”

While the traditional BBQ event will not be returning, the College would like to host a celebration for volunteers, supporters and community members when it is safe to do so in the future.

Since the BBQ first began, there are now a wide variety of ways for the community to learn about, engage with and support the college including through the NMC Foundation, advisory boards, volunteer positions and more.

The Oleson Foundation has pledged to continue their support for the college and its students, just as they have for nearly thirty years. Most recently the Oleson Foundation made a gift of $100,000 to NMC’s new West Hall Innovation Center. Marty Oleson will also continue to serve on the NMC Foundation Board.

The NMC BBQ Committee established an endowed scholarship in 2015 that will provide scholarship support in perpetuity for local students with financial need.

Since the BBQ began, you have developed new ways to connect with our community and to support our students and we are excited to continue that important work together as a college and celebrate with you along the way.

With sincere gratitude,
Diana Fairbanks