Whale of a Sale organizers Jordan Hay, Cathy Enns, Jennifer Juckett, Aggie Frizzell, and Laurel Harrison
The Downtown Anacortes Alliance was recently “crowned” by the state Main Street Program with the Outstanding Promotional Event Award for its “Whale of a Sale” event.
The Washington State Main Street Program helps communities revitalize the economy, appearance, and image of their downtown districts. The Washington State Main Street Program encompasses a network of more than 70 towns and cities.
Every year, as a cornerstone event of the annual RevitalizeWA conference, the Washington State Main Street Program hosts the Excellence on Main awards ceremony, honoring projects and individuals whose hard work and innovative efforts are making a difference in their communities and beyond. This year’s 2023 Excellence on Main award winners were announced on October 5 during the RevitalizeWA conference held October 4-6 in Vancouver.
The Outstanding Promotional Event Award is an annual award that recognizes creative and effective promotional campaigns that attract people to the downtown or neighborhood commercial district. This year’s award goes to the Downtown Anacortes Alliance “for breathing new life into and rallying community support around the local Whale of a Sale event.”
According to a press release by Director Jordan Hay, Whale of a Sale was a sidewalk sale event started by a local merchant in downtown Anacortes 15 years ago, but over time, participation waned and recent attempts to revive it were met with little success. In 2023, local merchants called upon the Downtown Anacortes Alliance to host the event. The Downtown Anacortes Alliance saw the event’s potential and decided to take it on as their first-ever event, dedicating $700 for their general fund to pull it off “on a shoestring.”
Through their board-led Outreach and Promotions Committee, the Downtown Anacortes Alliance recruited businesses to participate; planned a live band, buskers, and maritime-themed kids’ activities; and coordinated volunteers to help support the event. They set a goal of recruiting 10 businesses to participate, but recruitment efforts resulted in 33 participating merchants. Partner organizations such as the Anacortes Music Project got involved, and for the first time in the event’s history, restaurants joined in the fun by offering drink specials and outdoor dining options.
Merchants complemented the Downtown Anacortes Alliance’s marketing campaign by offering their own blowout sales and promotions.
“Many events are hosted in downtown Anacortes, but the Downtown Anacortes Alliance’s first event was unique. They were very intentional about focusing this event on Fidalgo Island locals and existing businesses,” said Washington Main Street Director Breanne Durham at the Excellence on Main ceremony. “In their own words, Whale of a Sale ‘demonstrated the joy and power that we already have in our community.’”
Durham personally presented the Outstanding Promotional Event Award to the Downtown Anacortes Alliance’s Jordan Hay, who was in attendance at the ceremony. The Washington State Main Street Program applauds this year’s Excellence on Main award winners and the impacts they have made in their communities.
Group photo: Organizers: Jordan Hay, Cathy Enns, Jennifer Juckett, Aggie Frizzell and Laurel Harrison
A fourth generation Skagit County native who was moved kicking and screaming from this island community in 1960. I finally reclaimed an Anacortes address in 1980, and I have been in constant celebration of my return since that time. Many of us who call Anacortes home love Fidalgo Island for its natural assets: among them are rugged beaches, pristine lakes, thousands of acres of forestland and some awesome views of the Skagit Valley and surrounding islands. Another element of my love affair with this community is its people, both natives and immigrants. They will “star” in many of my journal entries.
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