Goin’ nuts together: Mount Angel, Silverton partner on festival, shop hop

November 2018 Posted in Community, Food & Drink, Other, People

By Melissa WagonerScreen Shot 2018-10-30 at 10.30.02 AM

After seven years, Mount Angel’s annual Hazelnut Festival was hanging in limbo due to the recent passing of its co-founder Maureen Ernst.

“There was some talk about, ‘I don’t know if this is going to happen this year,’” Executive Director of the Silverton Chamber of Commerce Stacy Palmer said.

“But Maureen’s family really wanted it to continue,” Pete Wall, President of
the Mount Angel Chamber of Commerce added.

That is when the idea of reinventing the festival as a collaboration between Mount Angel and Silverton was voiced and both cities were eagerly onboard.

“They said, ‘Would you be willing to help us?’” Palmer recalled. “I personally knew Maureen for years and years and I didn’t want it to go away. Plus, it gives us a chance to work together.”

Combining forces, the two towns have already seen an increase in vendors by over 30 percent, partially owing to a simultaneous upsurge in sponsors, which allowed the committee to decrease the vendor fees and allot a portion of the proceeds to the newly established
Maureen Ernst Scholarship Fund.

“One of our goals is to expand the event and also bring back some of the old traditions,” co-founder of the festival and Mount Angel Chamber volunteer Mary Grant said.

“There’s a German market component. And as a city, we’re bringing back our tree lighting.”

The festival – which is free to the public – is held the first weekend in December in Mount Angel’s Festhalle. The decorated booths of about 45 plus vendors will be selling everything hazelnut from nut butters and milk to pasta and ice cream.

“We’re becoming the hazelnut capital of the US so it’s only natural,” Grant said. “It’s so cool. This year there’s a lot of high quality products including Bend Distillery’s hazelnut vodka – every year they sell out.”  

The two-day event also boasts a Saturday morning HazelnutRun, live holiday music, hot food, adult beverages, a children’s area and door prizes. Saturday  evening the festivities move to the center of downtown Mount Angel for a “Tree of Trades” lighting for the holidays.

“It makes it unique,” Wall noted.

Although the collaboration between Mount Angel and Silverton began with the Hazelnut Festival, the two cities view it as a starting point.

They have also joined forces for this year’s annual Shop Hop Nov. 23 – Dec. 11, and are looking forward to more opportunities for collaboration.

“The Shop Hop – that was one of the other reasons that Silverton wanted to partner with Mount Angel,” Palmer said.

“It’s all about the partnership and remind-ing folks that we’re four miles apart.”

This year’s Shop Hop has 41 businesses –  with a space reserved for a special stamp for attendees of the Hazelnut Fest. As in years past, participants will have the option of double stamps for purchases over $5. Thirty-two stamps equals a completed entry form, which can be turned in for a chance to win $1,225 in gift certificates –that’s a $25 gift certificate from each of the participating businesses.

“We usually get several hundred turned in and we track which businesses have purchases,” Palmer put said. “It added about $12,000 to the local economy last year.”

The bump in holiday business is why Palmer said many businesses participate in the Shop Hop year after year.

“We’ll have locals who come in and say, ‘I didn’t know we had a bike shop in town,’ and he’s been there 10 years,” she laughed.

Both the Hazelnut Festival and the Shop Hop are an important way for both cities to encourage shoppers to make local purchases during holiday season and throughout the year, according to Grant.

“It’s buying things local from people we care about,” she said. “Because creating memories is more important than stuff you throw away.”  

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