Chamber leads tourism efforts

The shift of the seasons has arrived, fall is in full effect and the heat of the summer is gone; along with most of the tourists. One might wonder how those people find Hood River, if it’s through social network, family members, or something else. Well, it’s a bit of all of them!

Hood River County’s Chamber of Commerce is leading the skilled marketing and active social networking required to get the word out to people about visiting this beautiful place. Local events are promoted on the chamber’s website ( calendar, the largest tourist and event website in the Gorge, which gets about 45,000 visitors a month.

On Sept. 29, the Harvest Ride and the Hood River Hops Fest were scheduled for the same day. Kerry, Cobb Hood River Chamber of Commerce executive director explained how the advertisement for those events was handled: “For the Harvest Ride, because the event fell on the same day as the Hood River Hops Fest, we both promoted each other’s events through social media. The chamber offered $3 off the entry fee to Hops Fest for Harvest Ride participants.”

This large scale advertisement is also very important to local businesses, since out of 480 businesses that are members of the chamber; 350 of them are, to some degree, dependant on tourism for their business, according to Cobb.

“Although agriculture is the biggest source of revenue in Hood River, tourism is a very big part of our revenue system; it’s probably the third most important market segment after agriculture and technology,” Cobb said. “Fortunately, we live in a beautiful place with lots of things to do.

“So when someone holds a bike race, the people that come also discover all the other outdoor recreational things there are to do (windsurfing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, horseback riding, etc.), plus wine tasting, shopping, beer, local food, and farmers markets,” she said. “The list is a long one but once they have visited, they tend to come back again and again and they also tell their friends and families too.”

Every summer, it’s hard to miss the chamber’s effect on people outside of the Gorge. There are so many new tourists doing things that all help the local businesses and economy, and many will come back and enjoy the experience of the Columbia Gorge again.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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