Strictly Business: Summer commerce in bloom

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian Business Editor



Most of us look forward to summer, for all the obvious reasons. We can enjoy the Columbia River Gorge, the mountains, the coast, and the rivers at our doorsteps. The wise among us spend time outdoors hiking or swimming, hunting or fishing, or just enjoying the too-short days of our Northwest dry season.

But the summer months are also a time of business opportunity for the many vendors who show up at the many fairs and events that fill the season’s social calendar. This is when local farmers, artists and craftspeople, food and drink purveyors, musicians and other entertainers earn a good share of their livelihoods. It’s also when many business associations and nonprofits produce events that promote local businesses and, in some cases, generate income to get them through the hibernation of our long winters.

It’s an impossible task to try to mention here all the events that make up summer in Clark County, and that create seasonal or part-time jobs for county residents. They range from regional events such as the huge Clark County Fair and Independence Day at Fort Vancouver, to seasonal venues such as our local farmers markets, to much smaller community activities including the Battle Ground Harvest Days in July and this month’s Woodland Planters Days. Both of those events attract 40 or more vendors, often local businesses who use the fairs as opportunities to introduce themselves to customers over the long haul.

Specialized activities

Summer days also are filled with other events catering more to specialized activities than to a specific community. In two weeks, the Vancouver USA Marathon will bring the fittest of the fit (and many wannabes) to the start and finish line at Esther Short Park. The runners, and their friends and families, will have plenty of opportunities to eat, drink, and buy running gear before and after the long run or walk.

Esther Short Park is a hub of business activity throughout much of the summer. Among them: About 130 of our area’s most creative entrepreneurs will stir the imagination at the seventh-annual Vancouver Recycled Arts Festival, sponsored by the Clark County Department of Environmental Services, on June 23-24.

And the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival, in its 15th year when it fills Esther Short Park from Aug. 24-26, offers opportunities for arts and crafts, restaurant, and commercial vendors.

Vancouver’s community festivals can’t match the ethnic variety of a large urban city, but the Fourth Plain International Festival makes a good start. The one-day event, celebrating its third year on July 14, lists 16 vendors of ethnic and local foods as well as arts and crafts.

Finally, let’s not forget the Hawaiian Festival July 27-28 in — where else? — Esther Short Park that will feature classic Hapa Haole music from the 1900 to 1959 period. It’s the event most likely to remind us that some places enjoy an endless summer, at least in our imagination. And it just might be a good place to buy a hula hoop.

Gordon Oliver is The Columbian’s business editor. He can be reached at 360-735-4699, or