September has arrived, summer is over, kids are back in school, Southern Oregon University is gearing up for the fall quarter and with it our thoughts turn to what fall and winter will bring. While this current fire season has posed challenges for all of us, our intention is to focus on solutions and looking forward.
As many know, the Ashland Chamber has worked closely with Ashland Fire & Rescue over the last year developing programs to help mitigate the impacts of smoke and to provide resources to help keep people informed. We jointly created www.smokewiseashland.org and continue to work collectively meeting with our elected legislators — local, regional, state and federal — to share with them the impacts our area has experienced with smoke and to find new ways to tackle this issue.
It’s apparent that everyone is looking for solutions and feels the need to work together. In our opinion it’s the best thing to come out of this challenge. We will continue to work collectively with Ashland Fire & Rescue to improve the website, as well as provide educational opportunities for the community.
The Chamber and Travel Ashland have robust marketing efforts in place to promote fall and winter and we are enhancing those efforts with strengthened partnerships. Our message is reaching both our local community members and visitors, creating an invitation to explore and experience the best of Ashland. There are many programs and events to look forward to this fall and winter. We hope you can enjoy as many as possible.
In Ashland, “shop local” is much more a tagline, it underscores our pride of living in a small community and supporting one another through our purchases. Think about going out for dinner, have a glass of wine, stop in one of our great specialty retail stores, take in a play or a music event, visit a winery, book a spa treatment and enjoy this special place we call home. Not only will you be supporting independent business owners but the thousands of employees who depend on a strong economy. Enjoy the community by attending an SOU or Ashland High School football game, cheering on the home team.
Additionally, there are many local events and activities to give you another reason to get out and have fun this fall and winter. Be sure to mark your calendars:
• Fall Festival, Oct. 5-8: A special weekend to explore Ashland’s downtown and the Railroad District. Shop, attend First Friday, enjoy local wine, a handcrafted cocktail or a nice meal at one of Ashland’s great restaurants. Indigenous People’s Day (Oct. 8) has numerous events throughout town to enjoy.
• The Children’s Halloween Celebration, Oct. 31: A wonderful event for families to dress in costume, trick or treat the businesses downtown, enjoy entertainment, a parade and have fun with your family and friends.
• Ashland Culinary Festival, Nov. 8-11: Produced by Travel Ashland to highlight and showcase the excellent culinary scene in our region with a chef’s competition, culinary workshops and tastings of wine and food.
• The Ashland Festival of Light Celebration, produced by the Ashland Chamber and Travel Ashland, begins on Friday, Nov. 23 and lasts through Dec. 31. We light the town with more than a million lights and hold Santa’s Parade on Friday, Nov. 23, to kick off the celebration. The entire promotion is about bringing the community together to shop, dine, and play while creating memories with friends and family in our charming town enjoying the magic of the season. We will again be producing the Holiday Gift Guide, which is mailed to Ashland households with special offerings from our businesses for the holidays and the Give Back Wednesdays program with merchants donating a portion of their proceeds to worthy nonprofits.
While we have experienced a challenging summer, we are blessed to live in this beautiful area and in this great community. Enjoy, support one another and have some fun!
Sandra Slattery is executive director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, For more information, go to www.ashlandchamber.com, call 541-482-3486 or stop by the office at 110 East Main St.