If this were a time of plenty, we would strongly advocate that the city of Fairview maintain its support of the Chili on the Green, a popular event for this East County community. But we understand the City Council's hesitation at providing financial support during a time of a financial hardship.

While the council has not officially voted to sever funding for Chili on the Green, it was less than enthusiastic about spending the money. The idea has been suggested that the city of Fairview pull the plug on chili in favor of replacing it with National Night Out, which are small events that connect neighbors with neighbors and with fire and police officials.

We are not convinced such a move would be in Fairview's best interest. Here's why.

While there's nothing wrong with National Night Out events, they are — at their very nature — beneficial only for individual neighborhoods. Think of National Night Out as block parties.

What this won't do is pull people from Gresham, Troutdale, Wood Village or Northeast Portland to a community event in Fairview. National Night Outs don't provide your community with a marketing opportunity to invite visitors who bring expendable income and who potentially patronize your small businesses.

While we understand why the City Council would want to resist spending public resources on Chili on the Green, we think it's important for all of Fairview to ask if this event is worth saving, even if it means others take over its planning and operation.

Perhaps the West Columbia Gorge Chamber of Commerce, or a local service organization, or even a group of volunteer residents, would be interested in taking on this event as a public service opportunity.

It works in other communities. In Sandy, for example, the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce earns a significant amount of its operating income from its Music, Fair and Feast, which coincides with the Sandy Mountain Festival, operated entirely by a group of dedicated community volunteers. In both cases, these events are independent of the local government.

It's worth exploring if the Fairview community is dedicated enough to chili that it's willing to take this festival off the shoulders of the local government.

Perhaps, too, Fairview is at a crossroads, where it needs to ask if Fairview has the emotional attachment to “chili” that will allow for long-term support of a community event. Perhaps Fairview should consider other themes, such as the area's long agricultural history with berry fields, or the importance of railroads to the early years of development in East County.

No matter what, it would be a shame to let Fairview fall off the radar in terms of an entertaining visitor opportunity.

Contract Publishing

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