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Tourism the name of the game for local Chamber group

Pennants hanging in downtown Sunnyside, the upcoming 3-on-3 basketball tournament and music in Centennial Square were all topics of conversation during last week's Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce tourism committee meeting.

The group received an update on the Chamber's downtown pennant campaign from Marketing and Events Coordinator Carrie Stone. Stone told committee members Lloyd Phinney and Karen Friend that she had talked to the city about the pennant program in relation to the city's proposed sign ordinance. She said city officials had told her the sign ordinance wouldn't affect the Chamber's pennant program.

Friend explained that the pennants are meant to be placed throughout Sunnyside's downtown corridor. She noted that the pennants, which advertise different community events, are supposed to be sponsored by local businesses. According to Friend, when the pennant program was first brought up by the Chamber, businesses were going to be asked to purchase the banners initially, getting their business name placed at the bottom of the pennant, then every year those businesses would have to pay a fee to keep their name on the sign.

Stone noted that at this point the Chamber has purchased five of the pennants, and is looking to take them around to local businesses to see if anyone would be interested in sponsoring the red and yellow signs. Friend said this is a project the Chamber has been working on for nearly two years.

However, the colorful pennants aren't the only signs the Chamber is interested in hanging. Stone pointed to several large pennant-style signs that welcome visitors to Washington Wine Country. Friend suggested those pennants be hung at the entrances to town.

The tourism committee also talked about the ongoing Spring Fling Festival. Stone said during the course of the week a number of people have walked through the doors of the Chamber office, looking for directions to different wineries and information about what is happening the Lower Valley. She said she has been handing out Spring Fling Festival flyers to everyone.

Stone said things are also looking good when it comes to Sunnyside's Spring Fling Festival golf tournament, set to take place today (Friday) at the Black Rock Creek Golf course, along with the Asparagus Extravaganza. She said this year there are 12 teams lined up to play, which is up from four last year.

"It looks pretty good," Stone said about the golf tournament.

Another upcoming community event is the Chamber's annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament.

Stone said Lino Gutierrez is already starting to plan the summer tournament, although he is hoping to make a change to the event. Stone said Gutierrez would like to see the basketball tournament move from the parking lot of the Mid-Valley Mall to downtown. She noted that he proposed closing off part of Fifth Street, near Central Park, to conduct the tournament.

Stone said moving the basketball tournament would mean being able to bring in vendors for the event, as well as use Centennial Square as a location to present the team awards at the end of the afternoon.

"All of our other festivals are downtown," Stone said.

Moving the 3-on-3 tournament is just one of several changes the Chamber is hoping to make this summer. Stone said they are already in the middle of planning a new summer event, which will span from May through September. She told tourism committee members the Chamber is planning on holding a summer concert series in Centennial Square every other Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. throughout the summer.

"Our goal is to double our events this year," Stone explained.

In regards to the summer concert series, Stone said the Chamber is working to book different bands to come down and play in Centennial Square. She noted that it will be a casual atmosphere, where people can come down and listen to music for a few hours, and maybe have lunch in the park.

The tourism committee then noted that if they want to have more events during the year, more volunteers will be needed.

"The community needs to come together and take responsibility, step up to the plate and make it happen," Stone said of the Chamber's different events.

Those interested in helping the tourism committee plan and coordinate the Chamber's various community events are invited to attend the next meeting of the committee May 12, at 2:30 p.m. in the Chamber conference room.

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