By Steve Guntli
The directors of the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce have some big ideas for the community, and they want to spread awareness in the most festive way possible.
The chamber will be holding its annual general membership (AGM) meeting at the Ferndale Events Center on Friday, November 21. More than the typical member meeting, though, the AGM has been designed as a social event, with food, drinks, live music, a silent auction and speakers who will weigh in on the future of Birch Bay. Organizers are hoping more than 300 people will attend.
Chamber director Jeff Carrington said the event is intended as a fun social night first, and a meeting second.
“This is the kickoff for the rebranding of Birch Bay,” Carrington said. “It’s going to commemorate our metamorphosis from a chamber of commerce to community leaders.”
Birch Bay will see a number of significant improvements over the next few years, from the installation of new utilities and infrastructure to the construction of the recently county-approved beach park.
Carrington is hoping to revitalize the resort community’s tourism industry with an ambitious slate of new events, as well as dramatic changes to perennial favorites like the Discovery Days festival.
Carrington believes the effort to rebrand Birch Bay will have a positive effect on the neighboring communities, as well.
“We really believe the marketing efforts here will ripple out into Blaine, Lynden and Ferndale,” he said. “What’s good for Birch Bay will be good for the surrounding area.”
Carrington will be one of the speakers at the event, where he will talk about the chamber’s new VIP membership card, which offers cardholders discounts on local food and products. Carrington wants the people of Birch Bay to be more involved in the development of the area.
“Birch Bay has a limited number of businesses,” he said. “We don’t have enough to support a robust chamber of commerce. That’s why we’re encouraging this change of platform, to engage the community and have larger opportunities to raise funds.”
Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws is also slated to speak, providing more details on county projects planned for the next few years, like the park and the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility project.
Chamber president Dave Hiller will provide a retrospective look at the growth and accomplishments the chamber has made in the last year.
An election to fill four positions on the chamber’s board of directors will also take place. The positions are open to any member or associate member of the chamber. To apply, candidates must submit a photo and a 250-word biography to chamber coordinator Sarah Pinkey at the Birch Bay Visitor Information Center by Friday, November 21. The membership will vote for the new members at the AGM meeting.
In addition to a buffet and no-host bar, the event will also showcase local performers. Musicians Ryan Sandholm and Jeremy Elliott will provide musical entertainment for the social hour, while Birch Bay favorites The Replayzmentz will play dance music.
The items for the silent auction are still being finalized, and donors can still provide items for the auction.
Carrington said this would be the first of a number of social events the chamber is planning, with golf tournaments, outdoor concerts and an exclusive night at the Birch Bay Waterslides already in the works.
“Birch Bay is coming of age,” he said. “We have 8,500 people here year round, and with our tourism population you can find anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 people coming through here. We need to make ourselves a destination for tourism.”
Tickets for the AGM will run $25 for individual seats, $200 for tables of eight and $250 for tables of 10. Tickets will be available at the door for $30. The meeting is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.
For more information or to reserve tickets, contact the Birch Bay Visitor Information Center at 371-5004.