Chamber should create a vendor selection policy
The local chamber resort association cited Strawberry Days spirit in allowing a vendor back into the festival – to emphasize positives instead of devoting energy to a lawsuit.The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association can preserve that spirit, save face and avoid other potential lawsuits by emphasizing one group of positives in particular: those positives the group uses as criteria to select vendors for future Strawberry Days.The chamber decided to allow Mabel’s Kitchen – which had come to Strawberry Days from Apache Junction, Ariz., for the past 23 years – back into the festival after the fry bread vendor threatened to file a discrimination suit due to the vendor being Native American. In extending the olive branch, though, the chamber also fostered the perception – fair or not – that it backed down, and it did so without Mabel’s Kitchen having to prove its allegations that the chamber’s decision was racially motivated – which might have been a reach all along.By allowing Mabel’s kitchen back in, the group very well may have found the best way out of a lawsuit without lending a bad aftertaste to Strawberry Days 2004. A chamber representative indicated that the group’s eyes are on the future, and now that it doesn’t have to devote that energy to the lawsuit, it can concentrate on coming up with a set of criteria to choose its vendors for 2005 and beyond – something concrete to point to in case a vendor cries sour grapes if it can’t find a slot in a future Strawberry Days festival.Deciding on those criteria and making them public would provide the group with yet another opportunity to shape future Strawberry Days. The chamber could help define what the festival is all about. If it wants to make Strawberry Days a fun event for locals, the criteria could give preference to the vendors that add a flavor Glenwood might not taste but once a year. If the festival’s purpose is simply to raise money for chamber projects that benefit businesses down the line, maybe the vendors that pull in the most money for the chamber are the best bet. If it’s to showcase the best of Glenwood to Strawberry Days visitors, local vendors could get preference.Regardless, having a clear-cut policy will help avoid problems like this in the future.Regardless, having a clear-cut policy will help avoid problems like this in the future.
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