Bay Chamber of Commerce:
From cold water to hot festivals
By Genee Haws-Kay
The 2004 Polar Bear Swim started the year off with one of the largest crowds ever, gathered at Birch Bay for the 21st annual dip on January 1. There were 269 participants, along with hundreds of spectators. Several awards were given to the hearty participants who came from all over the Whatcom County as well as other cities and towns in Washington, Australia, Texas, Oregon and B.C.
As the year progressed, many discussions evolved with the board of directors and others, regarding plans for a Visitor Information Center in Birch Bay. Several suggestions and thoughts came to light regarding the opening of our own VIC, but due to extenuating circumstances we were not able to see it become a reality. This project remains at the top of our priority list for next year.
July 3 saw the first sand sculpture competition of the summer. The sunny weather welcomed families from around Whatcom County who entered the several categories.
The crowd was pleased with all of the sea creatures, animals, castles and other creations. Winning categories were best in show, animal, mermaid/person, sea creature, sandcastle and object. First, second and third awards went to all categories except the stand alone best in show. Judges had the difficult job of picking the best of the best!
This year marked the 25th year for the Birch Bay Discovery Days Parade and Arts, Crafts and Family Fun Festival. The event, held the third weekend in July, appeared to be the largest since the beginning of these events. The weather was warm and we welcomed many, many visitors to the area. We received many favorable comments from the over 80 vendors at the fair. The parade touted 55 contestants, with an added contingency of World War II honorees. The big hit with the younger generation was the “Bouncey House” and the dunk tank.
In August the Sand Sculpture Contest was a sight to behold. Through wind and drizzle, several contestants pursued their works of art from 6 a.m. to noon. The crowd, as well as the contestants, did not let the weather dampen their spirits and everyone seemed very pleased with the final projects. Cash awards were given as well as prizes from local businesses. Twenty-three entries were from as far away as Oregon and British Columbia as well as Bellingham and Birch Bay. This included 16 families and seven amateur entries.
At the BBCC October annual meeting held at Stephani’s, four new directors were elected. The nine directors met shortly thereafter, and elected their new officers.
The new board is a wonderfully enthusiastic and diversified group who work well together. New events for 2005 are in the planning stages.
In November the board asked the general membership to vote on having an evening social once a month, for those members who are unable to attend the noon luncheon meetings. Starting in January, in addition to the regular third Tuesday meeting, “5:31 Just for Fun” meetings will be held on the fourth Fridays.
The chamber directors look forward to many more evening networking sessions in 2005 with chamber members.