Pressing news emerged from the annual Chamber of Commerce annual Membership event Monday.
The chamber will stage a new event in April: a cider festival to promote the burgeoning local industry that turns local fruit into a lightly alcoholic carbonated beverage.
Executive Director Mike Glover announced the festival in the Membership Appreciation event at Columbia Gorge Hotel.
“We’re calling it the Hard-Pressed Cider Fest,” Glover said. It is scheduled for the third weekend of Blossom Festival, April 25-27.
The valley includes at least four commercial cider producers, and there are two more in Mosier.
Bob Fox, 2013 Chamber board president and owner of Fox-Tail Cider in Odell, said the event will involve as many as 15 cider makers from the mid-Columbia, with room to grow.
“We’re putting this together in a short amount of time, so we’ll start small and see how it goes,” Fox said.
The cider festival, the first of its kind in the Gorge, will be held at a location to be decided in the mid-valley. Glover said it will give the chamber an event during the Hood River-based Blossom Festival to help draw visitors to the upper valley.
Also on Friday, Glover handed out the three 2013 Chamber awards: the Don Benton Community Service Award to Ray Perkins, Business of the Year to Hood River Supply, and Member of the Year to Chris Strader.
Glover said Strader, a past Chamber president and longtime Ambassador, had been a major support to him in his first full year as executive director.
“Our chamber is filled with so many great people,” said Strader, who owns Hood River Jewelers with his wife, Julie.
Strader can be seen each morning sweeping the sidewalk in front of their Oak Street shop. He described himself as not an outgoing person. “But the chamber is a great way to meet people, and when I put on the purple Ambassador vest, it’s really fun to meet people. The purple vest helps me fit in.”