Nakusp chamber 2016
Tourism and business in general have the full attention of the Nakusp & District Chamber of Commerce
“I love working here,” said Cedra Eichenauer, manager of the Nakusp & District Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Centre in Nakusp, B.C. “I love talking to the visitors. People are relaxed, they’re on holidays and looking for things to do, and they have questions that I can usually answer. It’s so satisfying to be able to help people, and it’s almost always fun.”
In the overlapping realm of business and tourism interests, the Nakusp chamber and visitor centre is into its third year of collaboration with the Kaslo and Slocan chambers of commerce. The three are co-operatively marketing the region as the West Koot Route, working together rather than competing with each other in bringing people to the area.
“The Nakusp area has a range of outdoor and cultural attractions,” said Eichenauer, “but the West Koot Route provides even more for longer stays. We’ve got six golf courses and three developed hot springs; many trails, lakes and provincial parks; and quite a few festivals and events. Our road signs, website and Facebook page have put the word out there. It’s economic development, certainly, but it’s community building as well.”
Eichenauer and her board have approached the Community Initiatives and Affected Areas Programs, a program of Columbia Basin Trust, for funds to support community events production and management, including wages to continue to employ an events co-ordinator.
“If we get the funding,” Eichenauer said, “then we will be able to continue to be involved in the Canada Day celebration and the Celebration of Light—our Christmas parade and festival at the beginning of December. We’re also looking at developing a mushroom-themed event in the fall. Without funding to pay a co-ordinator, the events likely won’t happen—it’s too big a job for a volunteer to take on.”
Eichenauer said she’s quite excited about the local events that are are coming up this summer. Kootenay Sufferfest—an apt name if ever there was one!—organizes and produces a whole slew of events and activities from March through September:
- Its first event of the season, a youth sports camp, takes place during spring break;
- The Nakusp Road Bike Weekend is scheduled for mid-May;
- The Sufferfest Half-Marathon and 5K Fun Run/Walk takes place late in May;
- The Amazing Burton Triathlon & Relay takes place in June;
- The Idaho Peak Ultra event is scheduled for July 24;
- The signature event of Kootenay Sufferfest takes place on the Labour Day weekend: three days of trail and cross-country biking and running races. The first day of racing takes place in Kaslo, the second in New Denver and the third day in Nakusp.
Nakusp Medieval Days is another event Eichenauer and village residents are excited about. The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) will stage a medieval festival, including a tournament, in Nakusp on July 23 and 24, and the public is invited.
“Last year’s event was just fantastic,” Eichenauer said. “It was so well produced, with so many interesting vendors and activities, and so much fun. The community was excited to host this event and worked hard to make it a success, and the SCA told us they felt the town gave them an unusually warm welcome.”
Eichenauer is a big believer in the importance of keeping the channels of communication and information-sharing open and active. Those channels include conversations with the membership, newsletters and the online community events calendar.
At a recent economic development workshop sponsored by the Province of B.C., Nakusp chamber representatives embraced the idea of business walks—another potential channel for communication, in this case between the business community and the municipal administration. Eichenauer is optimistic that the municipal government and the regional district will be receptive to supporting this initiative.
“The main thing the chamber does, that everybody sees, is run the visitor centre,” Eichenauer said. “And of course there’s ongoing chamber support of the business community, and issues we take on as they arise. I manage both, so I’m a little bit of a juggler.”
Twenty years ago, Nakusp was a pretty, sleepy village on the east shore of the gorgeous Upper Arrow Lake. The setting is still beautiful, with its shoreline boardwalk and Japanese gardens, and the village is still a village—but sleepy? Not a bit.