$150,000 in state funds to promote tourism in Stillaguamish Valley

Three major events that attract thousands of visitors to Darrington and the Stillaguamish Valley each summer are going to get a little extra promotion this year.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee freed up $150,000 in state funds to market the region as a tourist destination and promote the Timberbowl Rodeo, Bluegrass Festival and Summer Meltdown.

That’s good news for shop owners hit hard by the loss of business due to the extended closure of State Highway 530 following the deadly mudslide.

“The Stillaguamish Valley has some of the finest outdoor recreation opportunities in the state,” Inslee said. “We know tourism and visitor spending will bring immediate economic benefit to the communities recovering from the slide.”

Darrington Mayor Dan Rankin couldn’t have been happier. He’s been working on ways to help stores remain open through the summer and during the rebuilding of the road.

“It’s great. I think most of the outside world thinks we’re closed for business,” he said. “Without this, I don’t think we’d have the kind of marketing we would need to overcome that roadblock.”

The money is coming from a strategic reserve fund for economic development, the same fund used to market communities affected by the partial collapse of the Skagit River Bridge on I-5 in 2013.

The $150,000 will be used to conduct a multimedia advertising campaign of the area’s attractions including promotion of the rodeo in late June, bluegrass festival in July and the Summer Meltdown in August.

The Economic Alliance of Snohomish County and the Snohomish County Office of Economic Development will select companies to carry out the work.

Another batch of dough garnered from the county will be spent on park improvements, trailhead signs and route markers.

“This area has great outdoor recreation opportunities and summer festivals, and we want to make sure locals and tourists know that hasn’t changed as a result of the slide,” said Snohomish County Executive Director Gary Haakenson, who is overseeing the county’s long-term disaster recovery team.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

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