Spring in The Dalles means sunshine, flowers—and the Northwest Cherry Festival.

Wasco County holds the proud distinction of being the top producer of sweet cherries in Oregon, a state that supplies 11 percent of the U.S. market.

The Willamette Valley has about 3,200 acres of sweet cherries and the Mid-Columbia region about 12,300 acres.

I’ve been “Walking the Cherry Brick Road” for many years, and watched it grow and change from year to year.

In recent years, The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce is to be commended for pouring enthusiasm and energy into cherry festival planning all year long.

Although it is difficult to measure the number of people who go to one or more events during the weekend, estimates suggest more than 15,000 people attend one or more of the many events.

Sponsors and vendors cover the cost of the festival, allowing the chamber to use the transient room tax money it receives from the city for other marketing and promotional efforts.

Traditions and events have come and gone over the years. Remember the Cherry Festival Lip Sync contest?  But the festival continues to do what it was created to do: draw people together, and raise awareness of the importance of the sweet cherry harvest in The Dalles.

We all benefit from this import agricultural industry, and, like the festival, its value has grown over the years.

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