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Chamber looking at ways to spruce up S'side events

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Kathy Corliss, tourism and promotions director for the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, talks to members of the Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary Club about some of the improvements the chamber is hoping to make over the next few years.

The Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce is in the middle of what some people might call a regrouping period. Wednesday morning, Tourism and Promotions Director for the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce Kathy Corliss explained to Rotary Club members that the chamber is currently working to redefine its goals, looking specifically at what the group hopes to accomplish in the next five to 10 years.

One example of the chamber's efforts was this year's Sunshine Days festival. Corliss said the chamber decided to try something different this year, whittling the usual three-day event into a one-day affair, because Sunshine Days had been changing and morphing over the years into something that was almost unrecognizable.

"We want to get our hands around it and fix it or create something completely different," Corliss said.

Corliss noted that one of the most exciting events she was able to be a part of over the past year was Spring Fling Fest. She explained that the festival is a collaborative effort involving chambers from Benton City to Wapato, that is meant to capitalize on spring barrel tasting. Corliss said over the past few years wineries have begun making spring barrel tasting a two weekend event, with special invitations being sent out to people to come to the wineries the weekend before barrel tasting for more one-on-one attention.

Corliss explained that the local chambers have come together to try and fill the week between the two weekends with events that make people want to stay in the Valley for a few extra days.

"That is going to be a great thing," Corliss said of the Spring Fling Fest.

Corliss said the next event Sunnyside has to look forward to this year is the Lighted Farm Implement Parade. She told Rotarians that although this is already a great event, the chamber is looking at ways it can be improved. Corliss noted that the chamber is hoping to get more downtown businesses involved in lighting this year, and that the parade will return to ending at the Mid-Valley Mall parking lot as opposed to the parking lot at Sunnyside High School, where the parade finished last year. Another change will move the award ceremony for the parade before the event, meaning that award winners can be announced while the entries head down the parade route.

Following the parade, Corliss said the next big chamber event is the community awards banquet.

"This is a fantastic time for the community to come together," Corliss said. She noted that there are now 10 award categories, including new business.

Corliss then encouraged Rotary members to attend the annual Cinco de Mayo festival, which takes place in May. She said last year the event brought in nearly 25,000 people over the course of the weekend.

The final chamber event Corliss talked about was the three-on-three basketball tournament, which is held during the fourth weekend of July.

Corliss said the chamber is hoping to move the event from the Mid-Valley Mall parking lot to the downtown area. She said the chamber hopes the move will mean vendors can be brought in for the event and that it will encourage more local businesses to get involved.

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