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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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Shops to Love: Sweet Spot Skirts

Stephanie Carroll, Owner of Sweet Spot Skirts in Downtown Vancouver

Stephanie Carroll is an evangelist. She’s a vocal advocate for sporty, comfortable skirts and women are following her lead, converting their wardrobes to include her designs, which are worn over tights and other sportswear.

As a Vancouver real estate agent, Stephanie zipped around town by bike to visit her listings. “I used to wear a little disco skirt when I ran around checking my flyer boxes and taking photos.” When she received compliments about her short skirt, which covered her biking clothes, from two male acquaintances, the proverbial light bulb went off. “I think I can do better” with a skirt design, she thought.

Birth of a business
In February 2010 she took 45 skirts, all made by local seamstresses, to a bike swap in Seattle. She sold out and immediately filed for business incorporation of her Vancouver, WA-based Sweet Spot™ Skirts®.

At the beginning “it was a bookkeeper, myself and a seamer,” she says.” I was working out of my 9’ x 9’ bedroom in Vancouver. I lived frugally. The bedroom I was working in, I just stacked fabric and it was crazy.”

Fabric on display.

Stephanie continued to hire local seamstresses. In 2011 she hired a marketing director and they hit the road, selling skirts at events. “As a designer and creator of these items that these women love – I have tried my skirts on 2,000 plus women over just the last few months.”

Whether selling products from her downtown Vancouver shop, on her Web site at www.SweetSpotSkirts.com or from her 16’ Airstream trailer at events, Stephanie is attracting major attention with her designs.

Taking the skirts on the road, marketing with social media
Selling on the road is hard work, she says, but worth it. She spent July in the Midwest, selling her skirts at events like RAGBRAI, a 10,000-rider bicycle trip across Iowa.

While events have been a marketing mainstay , social media, particularly Facebook, has been the #1 sales tool for Sweet Spot Skirts, Stephanie says.  And hiring a marketing director was a turning point. “The marketing director has almost doubled or tripled our online sales and our exposure and she has been key to growing the revenue.”

Stephanie’s goals for  Sweet Spot Skirts are simple:

  1. Have fun.
  2. When goal #1 is done… Have a little bit more fun!
  3. Stay out of debt.

Skirts sewn on-site

Quality design, up close and personal

They hope to saturate the biking community with the bright, reversible skirts and outfit women for other sports including golf, yoga, running and tennis, among others. Future plans for growth include a big November 2012 release of a children’s line, new “flirty” skirts and kilts. She would like to eventually have a manufacturing site in Vancouver. “We are not going to go to China,” Stephanie says. “If we can’t grow this thing in the United States, we have to make it happen, we have to figure out a way.”

Sweet Spot Skirts Shop

Creating a headquarters in Vancouver
The downtown Vancouver store is a hub for the business. Located in the former Sixth Street Gallery at 105 W. 6th, the shop features wood floors, stacks of the colorful skirts and bolts of fabric where “you can go to the wall and pick out your fabric and have your skirt made,” Stephanie says.  There is no extra charge for the custom skirts. An operations director and store manager spend their days creating skirts and prototypes as well as assisting customers.

“We are working when people walk in. This is more of a manufacturing site. We call it our destination retail. You can come in and have a cup of coffee, you can have your skirt made, you can rent a bike.” Skirts that are sold wholesale are manufactured in Wilsonville.

Skirts on display

More skirts!

Proskins, jerseys and hats

Flipside Hats from Portland

Displays of the skirts, which sell for $69, are featured in the front along with hats by Flipside Hats, Proskins and Moxie Cycling Jerseys. The store offers bike rentals by the hour. The shop, which has the open feel of the former gallery including rotating art exhibits, is available for special events like bachelorette and birthday parties. They partner with local businesses like Top Shelf, which provides food and drink across the street from the shop.

Bikes for rent

Bike helmets

When asked what would surprise people about Stephanie, who is a whirlwind of ideas, her staff is unanimous: “She doesn’t sew a stitch!”

“I don’t know anything about sewing,” Stephanie admits. “I just know what I want it to look like.”

Shops (and Skirts) to Love: Sweet Spot Skirts

Stephanie may not sew but she knows how to envision and sell her popular skirts. Check out Stephanie’s designs, the work of her seamstresses and other products at Sweet Spot Skirts in Vancouver at 105 W. 6th Street, at www.SweetSpotSkirts.comSweet Spot Skirts on Facebook or the company blog.

 

 

August 15, 2012   2 Comments

10 Minute Conversation with Noland Hoshino

Noland Hoshino lives and breathes social media. He is the owner of Bcause Media, which specializes in digital marketing and social media optimization for businesses and non-profit organizations. Before retiring from a 20-year career with the Air Force, he lived in the Japan, Australia,  Germany and various U.S. locations. He has been honored for his social media work with the Portland office of Heifer International.  We chatted at Latte Da Coffee House and Wine Bar in Vancouver.

Noland Hoshino at Latte Da Coffee House in Vancouver

What brought you to SW Washington?

I used to be in the Air Force and my last station was here in Vancouver. I was the District Manager for Air Force recruiting so I recruited in Portland, Vancouver and Astoria. I always wanted to come to Washington. I grew up in Hawaii but Washington was always in my scope because I love the trees. Funny thing, I love the rain. I love the Pacific Northwest so fortunately this was my last station and I decided that’s it. I’m going to stay here. It’s so easy for me to go home to Hawaii. I’ve been in Vancouver for 12 years now.

What do you love about SW Washington?

I love the greenery, the nature. There is a thing about the people here – that it feels like a small town and that’s what I love about it. There is a community feel about it that I love. It’s not Portland. It’s not Seattle. It’s like we are in this in-between state. There is still a lot of prosperity and a lot of growth coming up here soon. That’s what’s I’m excited about — the next phase of what Vancouver can be. The buildout with the bridge, downtown building up. I’m super excited about that. Our goal is to sell our house and move down there because we want to downsize and travel more.

What is the best-kept secret about SW Washington?

For me, I love the hideaway places, especially if I go out toward Vancouver Lake like Frenchman’s Bar. People don’t know it but it is so nice out there. And the ability to take the train from downtown Vancouver to Seattle. Leave your car there (at the Amtrak Station) and the train ride is awesome with a great view. So I highly recommend that people take the train up to Seattle. Our Farmer’s Market downtown is awesome and all the festivals that happen in the park.

What is your favorite place to relax or play in SW Washington?

Where I live, we have a pretty cool area – Burnt Bridge Creek Trail. Where I live in Northwest neighborhood, they renovated the whole area. That’s a best kept secret too. Nobody knows about this little trail (Stewart Glen). They widened the trail. It is beautiful and it is right down the street from my house so I can take my dogs down there for a walk. It’s so secluded. A lot of people don’t know about it.

If you didn’t live here, where would you live?

Probably Seattle. I love the water. I grew up in Hawaii so I’ve got to have either a mountain or water nearby. I can’t deal with flat. I recently fell in love with South Lake Union in Seattle. It’s kind of like what the Pearl used to be.

What’s coming up that you are excited about?

We’re doing social media strategies with someone (Annette Cleveland) who is running for Congress. Also, I just got tapped to do a fundraiser on social media for Share on June 14 to raise as much money as I can in 24 hours. It’s kind of like a telethon. All the money that I raise goes to Share. It’s a national contest – Twive and Receive  but only one person can claim a city so I claimed Vancouver, said I’m doing it and I’m picking Share.

Our company also produces books. We have another one coming up in May, Social Media Road Map, a strategy book, because now that people are in that (social media) space, they say “Now what do we do?”

What would surprise people to know about you?

My age? That I’m retired? My sole goal now is to do good and help people out.

I collect Winnie the Pooh coffee cups. I’ve always loved Winnie the Pooh. I have 50 – all Poohs. I have been banned from buying any more. I just love them!

 

 

 

April 23, 2012   No Comments

30 April Events in SW Washington to Get You Out of the House!

It’s time to ignore the never-ending rain and get out of the house. From film to flowers, hiking to kayaking, contra to Indian dances, there are no excuses. See you out there!

WSU-V Native American Film Festival

April 4-6Native American Film Festival– Washington State University Vancouver is offering a Native American Film Series at 5:30 p.m. in the Dengerink Administration building, room 110. The series is free and open to the public. Each evening opens with a 30-minute guest lecture at 5:30 p.m. followed by the film screening at 6 p.m. Each film in the series addresses Native -American experiences with boarding schools. The speakers and films are:

April 4, “Older Than America” – Georgina Lightning, the film’s director and actress, will speak before the screening. In this contemporary drama of suspense, a woman’s haunting visions reveal a Catholic priest’s sinister plot to silence her mother from speaking the truth about the atrocities that took place at her Native American boarding school.

April 5, “Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School” – Jacqueline Peterson, WSU Vancouver professor emerita of history, will speak before the screening. This documentary uncovers the dark history of U.S. Government policy which took Indian children from their homes, forced them into boarding schools and enacted a policy of educating them in the ways of western society.

April 6, “The Only Good Indian” – Grace L. Dillon associate professor, indigenous nations studies at Portland State University will speak before the screening. In this film, set in Kansas during the early 1900s, a teen-aged Native American boy is taken from his family and forced to attend a distant Indian “training” school to assimilate into white society.

April 5First Thursday – Downtown Longview and Kelso  – Galleries and the Cowlitz County Historical Museum  are open in the evening with receptions at various galleries.

 April 6Full Moon Hikes at Ridgefield  National Wildlife Refuge . Evening hike, starting at 7:30 p.m. on the Oaks to Wetlands trail at the Refuge. Space is limited and reservations are required. Call 360-887-3883 for reservations and details.

 April 6 – As always, there are multiple First Fridays around Clark County including Vancouver, Ridgefield and Camas. For details check out the Arts of Clark County calendar.

In Downtown Vancouver – At 7 p.m., don’t miss the unveiling of the latest addition of public art to downtown Vancouver – a sculpture by Dave and Jennifer at Cobalt Designworks installed at Evergreen and Main. No excuses for staying in on the first Friday of the month!

In Downtown Camas – Visit each participating merchant, pick an egg out of the basket and see if you can select the Golden Egg!  Special deals are inside each golden egg at each of the participating merchants!

First Iron Man Strong Ale Festival

April 7First Iron Man Strong Ale Festival -  Noon – 8 p.m. The inaugural event features this year’s release of Walking Man Brewing’s Iron Man Imperial IPA, live music, hot food and a chance to sample a variety of Strong Ales from various breweries. Held in honor of “Iron Man Jim Caldwell.” Skamania County Fairgrounds. Admission.

April 7Vintage Fishing Gear Show – Display and show at 9 a.m. at the spring meeting of the NW regional of the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club. Red Lion Hotel in Kelso. Details at 360-274-8045. Admission.

April 7Klickitat Trail Conservancy Birding walk – 7 a.m. Lyle trailhead  – 3-4 miles. This is a special area. From the Conservancy: “The Klickitat Trail follows the first 31 miles of an old railroad corridor linking the towns of Lyle and Goldendale.  It is unique among rail trails. Nowhere else is there a rail trail that starts in a remote, beautiful tributary canyon, winds along a nationally designated Wild & Scenic River, and finishes in one of the nation’s only National Scenic Areas.”

 April 7-9Razor Clam Dig! – Three beaches – Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Kalaloch – will be open for morning razor clam digging all three days. Mocrocks will be open for two days, April 7-8, and Copalis will be open April 7 for one day only. Get the details here. Here is a ZEST post about our first excursion digging those delicious bivalves.

April 7-29Columbia River Kayaking has  a plethora of kayaking trips for beginners and experienced kayakers. Check out their calendar of trips here.  The river is really high right now. Be dry, safe and plan accordingly! Trips begin at their Paddle Center in Skamokawa unless otherwise listed.

April Contra in the Couve Caller Mary Devlin

April 13Contra in the Couve – Vancouver has a contra dance on the second Friday of every month at 7:30 p.m. the Hazel Dell Grange, 7509 NE Hazel Dell Ave. New and experience dancers welcome! Popular Portland caller Mary Devlin will be calling the dance. 

April 13-28Magenta Theater – Downtown Vancouver’s always entertaining theater company presents Hitchcock’s 39 Steps. Tickets are available here.

April 14Battle Ground Wine Loop – You can take the Battle Ground Wine Loop Tour bus around the loop for just $5 per person. It will make the loop all day long. Just hop on and off at each of the three participating wineries – Rusty Grape Vineyards, Heisen House Vineyards  and Olequa Cellars. Or take a designated chauffeur and drive the scenic 7-mile loop if you prefer.  Small tasting fees may apply at each location. Battle Ground Wine Loop from noon – 6, followed by live music after at Rusty Grape starting at 7 p.m.

April 14Klickitat Trail Conservancy Wildflower Walk – 10 a.m. 4 miles – Starting at the Lyle trailhead. Easy to moderate.

April 14-15Vancouver Symphony Orchestra – 3 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday. Winners of the Young Artist Competition will perform  the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 3 and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. Also All Classical’s Edmund Stone will narrate A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Mendelssohn with a performance by the Willamette University Chamber Choir. Buy Vancouver Symphony tickets here.

April 14-21Second Annual Cultural Immersion Week -   Immerse yourself in India! Columbia Theatre offers a wonderful schedule of events, culminating with a April 21 performance of Ragamala Dance (see below). Lots of events happening on Saturday, April 14 including Indian food, music, yoga, henna, fighting kites and “Bollywood Movez” dance lessons.

Holland American Bulb Farm Show Field

 

April 14-15 Woodland Tulip Festival –  The 10th Annual Woodland Tulip Festival will include annual blooming tulip fields, display garden and gift shop and much more. Check out the Holland America Bulb Farms Web site  for all of the events.

Cathlapotle Plankhouse

April 15Cathlapotle Plankhouse, Carty Unit of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, 28908 NW Main Ave., Ridgefield, WA –   The Plankhouse opens the season with a special presentation at 2 p.m. by Dr. Robert Carriker who will present “A Student in the Pacific Northwest: Sacagawea Travels the Columbia River.” Guided tours of the Plankhouse and children’s activities will be available from noon – 4 p.m.

April 19Sakura Festival – 1-4 p.m. To celebrate the breathtaking cherry blossoms that bloom in the spring, Clark College hosts an annual festival for the college and the region. The festival also honors Vancouver’s sister-city relationship with Joyo, Japan, which was established in 1995. This year, the Festival will also dedicate the new Royce Pollard Japanese Friendship Garden.

April 21Hometown Tourism Day – Many Long Beach Peninsula and Pacific County sites and museums are working together to promote Hometown Tourism Day. Check out the list of locations.

April 21Klickitat Trail Conservancy hike through Swale Canyon – 9 a.m. Lyle trailhead – 13 miles – strenuous. Early flowers should be at peak. The Trail is railroad gravel in places, so sturdy boots are needed.

April 21Kalama Word Catcher -  Writers take note – You can spend the entire day exploring your craft with an excellent roster of instructors including Larry Colton and Carolyn J. Rose. This is a benefit for the Kalama Public Library. Pre-register here.

April 21Columbia Theatre presents Ragamala Dance – 7:30 p.m. The classical dance troupe will perform “Sacred Earth” as part of the Second Annual Cultural Immersion Week sponsored by Columbia Theatre. Tickets available here.

April 21Trout Lake Run - The Half-Marathon, 10K & 5K running/walking events start and finish at Trout Lake School, which is the beneficiary of the event.

April 21Earth Day Celebrations – Lots happening around SW Washington. Check your local papers and Web sites!

April 21-22 Woodland Tulip Festival –  The 10th Annual Woodland Tulip Festival will include annual blooming tulip fields, display garden and gift shop and much more. Check out the Holland America Bulb Farms Web site  for all of the events.

April 21 – May 13Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens Lilac Days –  10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Hulda Klager’s farm home and beautiful gardens will be open and lilac plants and gifts will be offered for sale in a lovely gift shop. During Lilac Days, the farmhouse will feature a display of vintage hats and accessories. Admission.  This is easily combined with a visit to the tulip festival! Here is a past  ZEST post on the Hulda Klager Lilac Days.

April 27-29Home and Garden Idea Fair -  The fair features hundreds of ideas on how to make your home, yard and garden a more beautiful, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly place. Sponsored by Clark Public Utilities.

April 28Klickitat Trail Conservancy hike from the town of Klickitat to Pitt – 9:30 a.m. Lyle trailhead – easy walk.

If these aren’t enough events to get you out of the house, check your local newspapers for more ideas!

April 1, 2012   No Comments

10 Minute Conversation with Lee Rafferty

Lee Rafferty is the Executive Director of Vancouver’s Downtown Association. She has lived in Vancouver since 1974.

Lee Rafferty, Executive Director, Vancouver's Downtown Association

What brought you to SW Washington?
I married a man who lived in Vancouver. I continued to commute to my job in Portland for several years and left that job and sold real estate for a bit and then started my own business, Spanky’s. We had that business for 28 years ago and sold it about two years ago.

What do you love about SW Washington?
I love that we have a rich history and a bright future and a lot of it is tied to the beautiful Columbia River. We also have sports available to us, all kinds of recreation. We have a community that values education. We have community that values giving back and has a great deal of community pride in the things that we support and the things that we oppose. We don’t take an elitist approach to life. Anything that has been accomplished in Vancouver has been accomplished with a great deal of hard work and seeing a vision through. Nothing has been handed to SW Washington. We have always sort of lived in the shadow of sparklier places across the river. We know who we are and we know what we are doing and we are not trying to emulate.

What is the best-kept secret about SW Washington?
I’m in the business of exposing secrets and making everyone want to come here! I’m in the business of making sure that people understand the opportunity on every level that is here. This is a great place to raise a family. This is a great place to bring a business. The tax structure is very favorable for people who want to start a business and this area is completely invested in making sure that economically this area thrives.

As far as downtown Vancouver, I have always said that it is our recent success is because we are a downtown of opportunity. People are coming here, buying buildings, launching businesses and making their own way because it’s possible. We not so priced out of the market yet. There is a real fervor for this reinvention and a new vitality that is palpable. You go out on the street and you can just know that if you have taken stock of what was here last year and you look now at the change of views, rehabilitation of buildings, the plans to rehabilitate, the new businesses that have landed. It is amazing the change. It has happened pretty quickly and we are in the midst of a huge change that is very positive.

Our organization (VDA) is uniquely placed. We’re not government but we work very, very well with government. We don’t own anything but we understand the pressures of owning a building that is underperforming. We understand what it is to have a business that needs more traffic or maybe could use some advice about how to merchandise or how to light and bring in customers. We understand what it is to have issues where you need to be able to navigate permitting issues or know how to bring an event downtown. We are uniquely placed to be able to hook people up with what they need. We are a conduit and that’s pretty exciting. We do have our fingers in a lot of pies.

What is your favorite place to relax or play in SW Washington?
I have a couple of little granddaughters. I have three now. I like the Waterfront Trail, along the Columbia River. One granddaughter is old enough now to ride a bike. And I have one is in a stroller and I’ll probably have one in a front backpack and it’s very fun to go along the river and enjoy that.

The other thing I love is the new library. I am so pleased about the library and how it is becoming ever more a hub for downtown activities and for all ages. (Editor’s Note: The new Vancouver Community Library was just named #2 on the Livability.com list of Top 10 Libraries for Children in the U.S.)

If you didn’t live here, where would you live?
My dad immigrated from Scotland and I always say when I go back to visit that I can see myself living there, not in the city but in the north of Scotland where he was raised, not far from Inverness.

What’s coming up that you are excited about?
I am really excited that we have several property owners who are going to be taking advantage of our façade improvement program, which is half loan and half grant. A mandatory piece of any project we fund is that it needs to include lighting. We are trying to make sure that downtown is a more walkable, safe, inviting place 24/7.

Columbia Credit Union very generously gave us about $5,000 so we put that money into lighting ridgelines and some trees so that is the beginning of hooking place to place together, strong node to strong node. We know which areas we want to light and why we want to light them. We know why we are putting trees along those avenues and flower baskets there and we know why we are putting more art on the streets and where we are placing it because we know which corridors need to be activated.

And it’s not just north and south. We need to be activating east and west as well, especially now that we have this strong node of the library. That needs to be hooked to Esther Short Park and we need to make it a walkable, very intuitive way That is our mission to make everything more connected.

What would surprise people to know about you?
I grew up in Eastern Oregon and excelled at showing and fitting Polled Hereford cattle as a 4-H member. I was usually pretty intimidated by those huge animals, but I knew I could never let them know it.

Somehow not surprising… Lee’s favorite quote is “Nothing is impossible when you work for the circus!” Her favorite part of the quote? “Nothing is impossible.”

February 9, 2012   2 Comments

February is For Hearts and Horses, Art and Wine, Cinderella…and Chocolate!

February is a short month that offers a long list of activities. From quilts to chocolate, kites to Chalacha – no need to stay home.

February 1-29Castle Rock Quilt Show – Castle Rock Exhibit Hall, 147 Front Ave NW, More than 80 quilts All those tiny stitches! Don’t miss them at the quilt show.

Friday, February 3 – First Fridays in Multiple Cities!

February 3 - First Friday – Ridgefield, 5 to 8 p.m.- Alcove Art Gallery will feature nine artists for the month of February. The theme will be entitled “Passion for Art.” Shops and restaurants will be open, too.

February 3A Chocolate Affair to Remember – 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Camas. Sample locally made chocolates, specialty chocolate drinks and more! Plus local quilters kick off 2012 with a show of their original work at Second Story Gallery in Camas. The annual open exhibit in February will begin with a reception on First Friday and remain on view inside the Camas Public Library through the end of the month.

February 3 - First Friday Artwalk – Downtown Vancouver, 5 to 9 p.m. Always a great celebration of community and fine art and a way to stroll with neighbors and friends. Downtown shops, restaurants and lounges welcome you as well. Art is leading the way for changes in downtown Vancouver!

February 3Wintertide – VSO Chamber Music Group – 7 p.m. Trinity Lutheran Church 309 W. 39th Street in Vancouver. The Columbia River Brass present various styles from composers including Wilke Renwick, Samuel Scheidt, Eric Ewazen, Dave Robertson and J.S. Bach. Concert is repeated on February 5 at 3 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Camas.

February 3-4Indoor Market – Long Beach Grange, 5715 Sandridge Rd., 10am to 4pm. A variety of vendors will be selling farm fresh eggs, home-baked goods, handcrafted items, goat cheese and goat milk soaps, gift items, art, jewelry and more. Lunch will be served from the Grange kitchen.

February 4Stand up Comedy at the Old Liberty Theater - Downtown Ridgefield. 7:30 p.m. An evening of “honest comedy” featuring: Ian Karmel- From IFC’s “Portlandia” plus other comics. 21 and older. Tickets by phone: Don Griswold, don@oldlibertytheater.com, booking phone (360) 601-7549.

February 4-5Asian New Year at the World Kite Museum – Long Beach. This opening has special events to introduce the Bali Kite Exhibit. The exhibit lasts until March 25.

February 7Chocolate Confession by Joan FreedKiggins Theatre in downtown Vancouver. This hilarious one-woman show is a fundraiser for the Pink Lemonade Project. This is a perfect warm up for Valentine’s Day!

February 10-25Sense and Sensibility - Magenta Theater – downtown Vancouver’s theater troupe presents an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel in their intimate theater.

February 11Valentine’s TeaPomeroy Living History Farm, 20902 NE Lucia Falls Rd., Yacolt. Noon. Reservations required (360.686.3537). Seasonal menu will include assorted tea sandwiches, scones, desserts and two kinds of tea. A tour of the historic log house can be added for a small, extra charge.

February 11-12Columbia Gorge Wineries Valentine’s Day Open House Weekend – Columbia Gorge Wineries in Washington and Oregon. Winery Open House Hours are 11am – 6pm. What a great opportunity to taste and purchase wine for Valentine’s Day.

February 12Bravo! Concert Series – Leonard Bernstein Mass – St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 400 S. Andresen Road, Vancouver. 2 p.m. Leonard Bernstein’s Mass blends sacred text, human emotions and musical styles – from classical to sacred, rock, blues and jazz. The Bravo! Chorale, guest soloists, and Chamber Orchestra will perform.

February 14 - Musical Dinner Theater Historic Trout Lake Country Inn. Go up and play in the snow on Mt. Adams and then enjoy a dinner show.

February 16-19CinderellaThe Columbia Theatre presents Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. February 16th at 7pm, February 17th at 7pm, February 18th at 2pm & 7pm, and February 19th at 2pm.

February 17-19Washington State Horse Expo – Horses and equestrians come together en masse at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. Check out the full program schedule.

February 18-20 Columbia Gorge Wineries President’s Day Open Houses – Yet another wine weekend as the Gorge wineries open up again to celebrate President’s Day. More than 30 wineries will be open with special releases and discounts. Live music at Maryhill Winery.

February 21 - Volcano Views & Brews – Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Bistro in downtown Vancouver at 801 Washington Street. Doors open at 5 pm. Speaker presents from 6:30 – 8 pm. Rick McClure, the Forest Archaeologist and Heritage Program Manager for Gifford Pinchot National Forest presents “The Place Called Chalacha – History Beneath the MSH Monument Headquarters and Chelatchie Prairie.”

What a great month! See you out there!

February 2, 2012   No Comments

Happy New Year! January 2012 Calendar

The days are short and wet but there is plenty happening in Southwest Washington during January. No need to hunker down. Get out there and get involved!

January 2012 - It’s ALL happening at the 13 Fort Vancouver Regional Library District branches. Here is the FVRL January Schedule of Events.

Rusty Grape Vineyards

January 14 - Battle Ground Wine Loop – Noon to 5 p.m. This wine tour includes Heisen House Vineyards, Olequa Cellars and Rusty Grape Vineyards, where live music will start at 7 p.m. This will be a regular event on the second Saturdays of the month.

SOLD OUT! January 14The 2nd Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast will be held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Red Lion at the Quay, 100 Columbia Street, in Vancouver. the event theme is The Collaborative Society. Featured speakers are Jaymes Winters, CEO Blue Leopard Capital; Sarah Mensah, SVP, Portland Trailblazers; and Dr. James Mason, Exec Director, Cultural Caregiving, Providence. There will also be musical performances by Deborah Kimbrough, Gail Thomas and Violinist Shania Watts. This year’s event promises to be as inspirational as the 2011 breakfast. The event is hosted by Mosaic Blueprint. To purchase a ticket, click here.

January 14-15 - Windless Kite Festival, Long Beach School Gymnasium, Washington and 4th St South. It doesn’t take a windy day to fly a kite. Demonstrations and competitions last two days.

Saturday January 14th
10 – 11:30 am Demonstration Show
2 – 3:30 pm Indoor Ballet Competition
3:30 – 5 pm Free Flying & Lessons for all ages

Sunday January 15th
11 – 12 am Indoor Hot Tricks
12 – 1:30 pm Demonstration Show
1:30 – 2:30 pm Grand Finale

The gym is open for participant practice, demonstrations, and indoor flying lessons Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 5pm except during Performance Times. Admission: Donation

The Blacksmith Shop at Fort Vancouver

January 21Fort Vancouver Lantern Tour - A lantern tour of the Fort gives you a true sense of what the long winter nights were like for John McLoughlin and his crew. Costumed interpreters are on site for this popular event. The cost is $10 for adults and $7 for children under 15 years of age. Reservations are required. To make a reservation, call the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center at 360-816-6230.

January 21-22
First Long Beach Peninsula Razor Clam Dig of the Year! - Dates are always tentative but the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced digs on evening tides at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks. Licenses are required. No clamming is allowed before noon. Go here to read a past ZEST blog post on clamming. For details read the official WDFW announcement. Here are the rules and regulations.

January 21-22 - Antique and Collectible Show, Clark County Events Center. Saturday 9-6, Sunday 10-5 Admission is $6 – Good for both days. More than 400 booths of collectibles!

January 22Legends of Mexico-Leyendas de Mexico at 2 p.m. Columbia Theatre in Longview offers a delightful Rainy Day Series, which is family-friendly entertainment in the beautifully restored theatre. Nuestro Canto shares legends from all over Mexico and has composed music especially for the legends narrated during their performances. Tickets are only $5 and available here.

January 26-28Clark College Jazz Festival – This is the 50th year of the Clark College Jazz Festival! The Festival hosts more than 60 middle school and high school vocal and instrumental jazz ensembles in a three-day celebration of jazz. Gaiser Hall will be THE most musical site in Clark County during this renowned festival!

January 29 - 2nd Annual National Unpublished Writers’ Day Workshop at the Clark County Historical Museum. noon – 5 pm.

National Unpublished Writers’ Day is an annual event held in partnership between the Clark County Historical Museum, the Writing Center at Washington State University Vancouver, the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver. The event highlights The Brautigan Library Collection at the Museum, Washington-born writer Richard Brautigan who conceived the idea for a library where anyone could contribute unpublished books, regardless of content or quality of writing, and all those folks who wish to create or communicate through writing.

The free event will feature a series of “creative stations” and workshops around the Museum, each offering different opportunities to learn or experience something associated with different aspects or kinds of writing.

Lion Dance from the FVRL 2010 Chinese New Year Celebration

January 29Chinese New Year Celebration – 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Vancouver Community Library – Gung Hay Fat Choy! The new downtown library will be the site of this year’s lively Chinese New Year celebration in Vancouver. This is a wonderfully colorful, all-ages festival that will include Chinese New Year customs and history. Performances include singing, dancing, martial arts demonstration, Gu Zheng (Chinese musical instrument) and lion dance, which will be performed by the Portland Lee’s Association Lion Dance Team. Craft activities are available on Level 3 after the program. ZEST visited the 2010 Chinese New Year Celebration and had a great time! For more information, call 699-8831.

January 28-29Vancouver Symphony Orchestra – Vancouver’s excellent symphony features offers acclaimed violinist Francisco Garcia-Fullana playing he Sibelius Violin Concerto. The symphony will also perform Eugen Onegin: Polonaise by Tchaikovsky and Symphony No. 3 by Tchaikovsky with the passionate Salvador Brotons conducting. The Saturday performance is at 2 p.m. and Sunday evening’s concert begins at 7 p.m. at the Skyview Concert Hall. Individual tickets are available here. Better yet, buy the new three concert package!

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January 6, 2012   No Comments