WORD ON THE STREET: Mutts off Main, music entertain Sumner

Summer fun definitely arrived this last week in downtown Sumner and there’s a lot to write about.

I’ll start with the Music off Main concert in Heritage Park that was kicked off with the Celtic Maidens and then followed by Kellee Bradley, the featured performer chosen by the Arts Commission. I’m betting that Sen. Knoblauch would have loved seeing the enthusiastic crowd of more than 350 people hanging out in the park named after him and enjoying the free entertainment on a Friday night.

It makes me smile to remember his stories about growing up here in Sumner and enjoying the downtown parks with bandstand entertainment. Heritage Park is a fitting name for a place that encourages the sustainability of Sumner’s sense of community.

It was a busy week in our Heritage Park office with volunteers preparing for Saturday’s Mutts off Main event.

A special thanks to Ted and Jan Hackmann, Petra and Chris Karr and the Ascension Productions crew, Daisy Peel and the It’s A Dog’s World gang, and Mr. Finch’s FFA students. All I can say is WOW! These are power helpers to be sure. And that doesn’t include Jille, Diane, Barb and Karl, Eric, Tom, and a bunch more. All in all, it takes 40 or more volunteers to pull off community events like Mutts off Main.

And that doesn’t count Chris (and his black Labs) from the Old Cannery with their vintage fire truck or the mayor who pulled his 1930 REO (with the cool “arrooga” horn) out of storage to chauffer a well-dressed Madame DeVille around downtown and through the parade and the Bryans who brought their dog Doyle to be our mascot.

In addition to our wonderful volunteers, we had some great vendors at the event as well. Metro Animal Control reported they did more dog chipping at this year’s event than at any other they’ve attended. Mud Bay, one of Sumner’s newest businesses, was pleased with the exposure they received in the community, as were the other 24 business vendors who participated.

An estimated 1,500 people attended the event and visited with the vendors and local service booths.

It’s not unusual to hear me talk about event strategies and our 2009 Mutts off Main event definitely accomplished some of our organization’s downtown goals. We had the biggest attendance ever, both with people and mutts, many of our local businesses were able to promote themselves to our community and several local service organizations had the opportunity to educate residents about resources they provide.

And while I love all of it, I think my favorite partnership was with our local FFA students who pitched in and helped with event duties (even the non-fun ones) until the very end. Those kids rock!

When I have the opportunity to work with young adults who have great attitudes and enjoy working in the community, I am reminded of what this country is founded on and why I enjoyed Sen. Knoblauch’s stories of his youth.

The community spirit he valued is alive and well here in Sumner and is one more reason people genuinely like to spend time here.