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Chamber scores a Harvest Days win

Chamber scores a Harvest Days win Chamber scores a Harvest Days win

Last summer chamber director Sue Emmerich and members of the Medford Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors group began working on Harvest Days.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and additional public health restrictions in place, they went into it knowing that things were going to be a little different this year. Little did they realize how different things would be.

About a month ago, organizers got the bad news that state guidelines had tightened and that the city would not be allowing the parade to take place. The annual Harvest Days parade is the highlight event of the weekend’s activities and typically draws thousands of costumed spectators who line the parade route.

With many communities choosing to simply cancel Halloween activities, Harvest Days organizers didn’t want to add more disappointment to area families. Instead of giving up, the organizers regrouped and completely reworked the event adding outdoor rock searches, a drive-through spooky trail on Saturday and an “I Spy” contest on Sunday.

Going into the weekend, Emmerich and the other organizers had no idea what to expect. Would their hard work be a flop or would people embrace what they could do rather than complain about what they couldn’t?

What they didn’t expect was the resounding success of the reworked Harvest Days weekend. That success was evidenced by people who waited more than two hours for a chance to drive through the Spooky Trail. At one point, the line of cars stretched from the entrance on Allman Street, all the way down Centennial Parkway and up past Second Street on Hwy 64. The trail was scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. but it was after 10:30 when the last car went through.

It made for a long, cold night for the volunteers lurking in the woods and providing scares along the trail and for the others behind the scenes making sure things were running smoothly. There have been calls to incorporate the Spooky Trail as a regular feature in future Harvest Days celebrations.

Sunday’s “I Spy” contest was also well-attended with dozens of families taking part and getting candy and clues from volunteers stationed all around the city.

These events, as with any other community events, could not happen without the dedication and perseverance of organizers and the hard work of the volunteers willing to stand out in the cold and snow to help bring smiles to local residents.

In a year of disappointments, Harvest Days organizers could have followed the easy path of canceling this year’s festivities. Instead of seeing it as a defeat, the organizers instead used the COVID-19 restrictions as a way to shake things up and reinvent the event. Hopefully things are back to normal next year, but even if they aren’t, it is a sure bet that the Medford Area Chamber of Commerce and its volunteers will rise to the challenge.

Congratulations to the MACC and the Chamber Ambassadors for a job well done.