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One stinking good time

The onions were purple, but still a hit at this year's Great Onion Festival
by: Steven Kenner, Contestants in the onion eating contest.

Cook it and they will come. It took a mere 900 halves of barbecued chickens by the gallant efforts of the Sherwood Volunteer Firemen, 1,800 pounds of donated onions from Amstad Farms, Bernie Danylchuck's well known 'Alabama Baked Beans,' cole slaw from It's Party Time Catering, Jo Otto's homemade onion rolls and of course, a tasty baked onion made with a secret, sacred recipe to draw crowds to the 20th Annual Great Onion Festival.

Dr. Ben Aanderud of Pacific Family Dental was chair of the Great Onion Committee and led his troops through thick and thin. The food was fantastic, arts and crafts vendors were abound, there were kid's games galore, a pumpkin decorating contest, an appearance by Red from Red Robin Restaurant, on-stage entertainment throughout the day, plus tons of raffle prizes. It was an action packed and full of adventure event which brought both old and new Sherwoodians out in droves.

Of course, the volunteer firemen's lip-smacking chicken brings in the crowds. Granted, the Onion Eating contest and 'Best Dang Onion Dish' competition allows for friendly competition and they tend to bring their own following, but nothing beats the barbecued chicken. The volunteer firemen have a run on the market (addictive chicken) and gave up their weekend for the good of the community.

'While the title makes it appear the event is all about onions, it is really the volunteers that make it happen' said Dr. Ben Aanderud, Onion Committee Chair. 'What wonderful, creative and dedicated volunteers Sherwood is blessed with. This is what makes Sherwood stand apart from other cities, makes Sherwood a community versus a city.'

The Great Onion volunteers signed up for various two-hour shifts, all happily wearing the official dancing onions apron. Some took on four hours shifts or were simply there for the day to be used as needed. And needed they were!

The Sherwood Chamber of Commerce is the coordinator of Great Onion Festival. John L. Scott Real Estate once again held the Onion Lover/Title Sponsor privilege and Providence Newberg Medical Systems was Onion Admirer while Sherwood Dental Care and Loren Berg Chevrolet were Pearl Onions.

Sherwood is known for its festivals and while the Great Onion Festival is a smaller event, attracting around 3,000 persons, it evokes exceptionality. Master of Ceremonies Ron Kachergius and Susan Rychlick, both of John L. Scott Real Estate, were behind the microphone and with a full stage to play on, they were relentless.

No Great Onion Festival is complete without a few 'challenges' and 2006 was no exception. For starters, when the Chamber of Commerce called Kelly at Amstad Farms to request the annual donation of one ton of yellow onions, the words, 'uh-oh' could be faintly heard over the line. Amstad did not grow onions this year. But not to fear - Kelly was on it. A few days later Sherwood was knee deep in purple onions, which were even better.

Another instance that could not be ignored was the blaring fire alarm that went off during the event. There is a reason those alarms are so obnoxious - so people will evacuate the building.

There was no fire, everything was fine and within moments the Sherwood Fire Department came rolling in. They were not going to let anything ruin the Great Onion Festival!

Must Mentions: The simplest jobs at Great Onion can play a vital role in the entire process of the event. What might appear to be a small task at the time, Bacon Grease Coordinator Dave Flora of Key Bank played an integral part by coordinating with Shari's Restaurant for bacon grease pick up. The bacon grease is a crucial ingredient of the tasty baked onion and not to be taken lightly.

Led by Coordinator Dave Heironimus, the elite and prestigious Onion Prep Team was chopping onions, making beans and cole slaw and basically doing the behind the scenes dirty work the day before the event. Onion Prep Team has their system down to a fine science.

Vendor Coordinator Julie Theberge, owner of Portraits By Design and Country Gardens Estates, worked diligently with the vendors getting everyone situated and happy.

We cannot forget Les Schwab Tires, who was delegated the job of picking up the 900 chicken halves from Safeway and delivering them intact to Archer Glen School.

Home Depot donated mud buckets and the kids from Future Farmers of America filled the buckets up with onions and sold them at the event. Sale proceeds of Onion Bucket sales go Sherwood's Future Farmers of America.

Doug Pederson of Creative Content saved the day by designing the Onion Posters (with minimum notice).

A big and special THANK YOU goes to Heidi Sprunger, Bridgette Story and Leah Sinclair from the Chamber Office who threw their hearts and souls into this festival.

Last but certainly not least is Alice Thornton, Bernie Danylchuck and Marv Taylor who worked relentlessly; without them, the Great Onion Festival would not happen.

There are over more than volunteers involved in The Great Onion Festival and our heartfelt thanks go to every single one.