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Planning for Sunshine Days underway now

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Present at this past Thursday night's Sunshine Days meeting were (L-R) Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce Director Pam Turner, Sunnyside Councilwoman and business owner Teresa Hancock and community member Janie Polomo.

This past Thursday evening a meeting was held to discuss this year's Sunshine Days. Consensus was to give Sunshine Days back to the community and revive the wholesome appeal to the annual event.

The five people who attended Thursday's meeting at the Sunnyside Community Center expressed their thoughts of making Sunshine Days more like a farmer's market. They felt the agricultural community should be a main feature to the community-oriented appeal of the event.

Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce Director Pam Turner said, "We want it clean, well-done. We want to do it right, classy."

The room was in agreement and the ideas given by those present were to ensure the event is a local event. "We want the money to stay here, not leave with the vendors," said Sunnyside Councilwoman Teresa Hancock.

The group agreed the focus for this year's event should be centered around local non-profits, local businesses, home-grown activities and crafts. "It should be unique to us," said Turner.

When speaking about the growth and popularity of the event, the group felt the community would help it grow once the realization of the event's local focus was the reason for Sunshine Days.

Needs addressed included looking at local funding sources and sponsors. "We need community involvement. We can call some of our contacts and perhaps get them involved in the event. Once there are local people involved, maybe others will become involved," Turner stated.

One activity the group agreed would be a good attraction would be a baby contest. Ideas for the contest included biggest dimples, biggest eyes, biggest smile and baldest baby among many other categories. The group is hoping someone such as the hospital might sponsor such a contest.

Another activity the group was eager to see occur during this year's Sunshine Days is a largest vegetable contest. "We need community members to start their gardens and be ready for the harvest contest," said Hancock.

Another idea thrown out by Port of Sunnyside representative Vernita Coffey was a tractor pull. The event would need to be held somewhere such as near the Law and Justice Center or perhaps the airport. But, the group was willing to explore the possibility.

"I was looking at things through the eyes of a food vendor," said Janie Polomo, "and I thought Sunshine Days should not be about the money as much as to celebrate our community."

She said people in the community want Sunshine Days to be like it used to be. They want the activities and food to be community driven. "And, it's important for our youth to see why we are a community."

Hancock agreed, saying, "We need to give people a sense of community."

Polomo further commented, "We need to give people things to do to get them involved."

"Once word gets out that we're trying to make things more local, more might wish to be involved," said Sunnyside Police Chief Ed Radder.

The group also felt the event should include the multi-cultural atmosphere in Sunnyside. "We should embrace the many cultures we have in Sunnyside," said Turner.

"Yes, we do need to acknowledge the many ethnicities," agreed Radder.

The carnival location was still in question. The group agreed there were both positives and negatives for the St. Joseph's location and the parking lot of Central Park. "There are so many people in the community affected by the carnival," Hancock stated.

"What we need is for people to help and take the lead on the various ideas," said Turner.

"But, people need to realize if they want to see something, they need to participate," said Coffey.

"We need to rebuild Sunshine Days," Turner concluded.

The next Sunshine Days meeting will be held Tuesday, April 3, at 6:30 at the Port of Sunnyside office, located at 520 South Seventh Street. The meetings will continue to take place the first Tuesday of every month at the same time and location.

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