by Kirby Lindsay, posted 10 September 2012
The Fremont Chamber of Commerce has been known to go a bit broad in its reach to, according to its mission, strengthen “the business climate.” Yet, at its August Board meeting, the organization got down to some of the basics of business promotion – and street management – as well as getting quite detailed about the planning for its major fundraiser, the Fremont Oktoberfest.
J.P. Patches Place?
The Fremont Chamber, along with other ‘relevant’ neighborhood organizations and adjacent businesses, received a letter dated August 23rd from Sol Villarreal of the Seattle Office Of The Mayor. The letter asked for input on a circulating petition requesting placing an honorary name to the one block stretch of N 34th St between Troll Avenue and Fremont Avenue of J.P. Patches Place. An honorary name, explained the letter, “does not change the legal name of the street, nor do the addresses of properties on the street change.”
A motion for the street name, ‘for honoring our best clown’, was placed before the Board which gave the honorary name change whole-hearted and unanimous approval.
Crosswalk for Troll Avenue
Any pedestrian or cyclist who has tried to cross N 34th St at Troll Avenue knows that a light or crosswalk or something is needed for that intersection. John Nordstrand of History House and representative to the Lake Union District Council has offered to serve as an agent of the Chamber in working with the City of Seattle Department of Transportation on putting a marked crosswalk at this intersection. The Chamber Board unanimously approved his appointment, although he had already reported that a pedestrian count ordered by the City met the threshold needed to qualify this intersection for the crosswalk.
Fremont Chamber Executive Director Jessica Vets brought the Board a request for membership to a new, grassroots group called the Washington Tourism Alliance. The State no longer funds a tourism office, due to budget cuts, and this group seeks to assemble a private, membership-based tourism program as a replacement. However, there is reason to believe most of their efforts will be about lobbying at the State level.
Membership in the Seattle Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, for slightly more money, has previously resulted in tourists visiting Fremont, and Fremont area businesses. Vets agreed to further investigate the options available.
Phil Megenhardt, owner of Bold Hat Productions, reported on the upcoming Fremont Chamber Oktoberfest, on September 21st – 23rd. Posters, coasters and coupons have been distributed around Seattle. A few more breweries have signed up this year, Megenhardt informed the Board, and the space where they created lounges last year has become larger-sized brewery booth spaces.
Megenhardt talked most emphatically about volunteers – the event needs 1,000 volunteers to operate at capacity – and he gave the good news that 70% of the shifts have been filled. On August 29th, that left 96 shifts still open for Saturday night (as of September 8th, the number was 70.) The Board was strongly encouraged to volunteer, and/or recruit an army of volunteers to sign up. “It’s a blast,” reported Megenhardt, and Vets volunteered to help sign people using ShiftBoard (contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Last year the Chamber received an infraction from the Washington State Liquor Control Board (LCB) for advertising practices related to the lounges. This year Megenhardt has consulted LCB representatives on every single detail of the event, and has received complete approval on all advertising. Megenhardt did point out to the Board that the LCB now requires Oktoberfest to pay for two different liquor licenses – one for inside the gated area and another for outside.
Megenhardt also shared details about security procedures for the festival. The LCB has not had a single complaint about the service of alcohol at Oktoberfest, and Megenhardt continues to work with LCB enforcement on training and policies to keep it that way. Bold Hat hires a security company that staffs a team of identification inspectors for the Oktoberfest entrance gates, and at each beer tent security guards watch for intoxicated patrons. These guards never leave their posts, but they can call in a roaming security detail to assist incapacitated guests to the recovery tent for reuniting with friends and/or water – before they leave. So far, Bold Hat has received kudos from LCB and the Seattle Police Department on their procedures, Megenhardt reported.
Oktoberfest is now a no re-entry event, Megenhardt also mentioned. Surveys have shown that most people come for about 2 hours. The few who have, in the past, come in and out, tended to re-enter more intoxicated and/or high than when they exited. When asked, Megenhardt and others who have worked the festival, reported that ‘there is customer care,’ and exceptions can be made for those who enter and then want to return a coat (or retrieve a coat) from the car. However, Megenhardt estimated those exceptions have, so far, numbered about five.
The Board reacted favorably to Megenhardt’s report, although his concerns about the need for volunteers for Saturday night were taken seriously. If more volunteers cannot be found, the number of people allowed to enter the beer garden will be limited.
Fremont Fair Date for 2013
The Chamber Board very briefly discussed on-going efforts by the Fremont Arts Council to set a date – either June 15th or June 22nd – for the 2013 Solstice Parade, held traditionally during the Fremont Fair. Vets reported the current position of the Chamber as, “we stand with you, but we won’t fight with you.” The Board agreed that it is up to the Arts Council to work with the City on the date, but some remarked again about the need to set a date soon.
This highlight reel covers only a few major issues discussed at the meeting. To find out more about the work of the Fremont Chamber, attend an upcoming meeting. The next Board meeting will take place on September 26th, at History House, at 8a – and everyone is welcome!
- FCC Highlight Reel: Distributions, Dates & Yet More Wiffle Ball
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 1, 2012
- A Date For The Solstice Parade
- by Kirby Lindsay, August 27, 2012
- Oktoberfest Volunteerism
- by Kirby Lindsay, September 11, 2009
©2012 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.