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Sunshine Days pared from three days to one

Sunnyside's grand Sunshine Days celebration won't be so grand this year.

Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce officials have decided to drastically pare down the annual three-day community event in September.

Instead of being three days, as it has been for many decades, this year's Sunshine Days festival will now be only one day, Saturday, Sept. 18.

"We have been discussing it since last Sunshine Days," said Kathy Corliss, chamber tourism and promotions director.

Corliss said for the last few years the attendance at Sunshine Days has drastically declined.

"The turnout was not what we were hoping for," said Corliss in regards to last year's event. "We are not sure what people are looking for."

Corliss said some of last year's entertainers performed for very few people.

The chamber spends quite a bit of money on funding Sunshine Days. Last year, the chamber spent $8,200. This year, the chamber has $7,250 set aside, but Corliss isn't expecting all of those funds to be expended.

Plans to scale back Sunshine Days was formally announced at the May chamber of commerce board meeting.

Right now, there isn't much planned for the one-day Sunshine Days event in Sunnyside. Corliss said she is planning to hold a community breakfast, which will be for local residents and parade participants. There will also be the parade that Saturday followed by the annual Miss Sunnyside pageant that evening. Corliss said there will still be a three-day carnival in Sunnyside that will open a couple of days before Saturday.

The chamber's main focus this year will be presenting a memorable Fourth of July event.

"We are going to really try to focus our efforts on providing an old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration in the park," said Corliss.

Corliss said she would love to have Sunshine Days go back to being three days again, but the community support just hasn't been there.

"It was a very hard thing for me to let go of," said Corliss.

Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce President Tom Gaulke echoed the thoughts of Corliss, saying the event is now one-day because there no longer seems to be community support for Sunshine Days.

Gaulke said the chamber usually breaks even on sponsoring Sunshine Days. Gaulke said the problems isn't funding Sunshine Days, but rather all of the work that goes into the event for something the community isn't supporting. Gaulke said in recent years it seems as if the Cinco de Mayo festivities have become the dominant event in Sunnyside. Gaulke said it is very hard to justify sponsoring an event like Sunshine Days when only 2,000 to 3,000 people show up, while the Cinco de Mayo festival is getting in the neighborhood of 25,000 people.

"For whatever reason, folks have not been coming out for Sunshine Days," said Gaulke.

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