The Blog - What's Fresh in the Valley

On the first weekend in May, while we were celebrating Apple Blossoms in Wenatchee, Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort was awarded the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) Conversion Cup Award for best learn to ski/snowboard program in the country during the NSAA Convention in Scottsdale, Arizona. Mission Ridge’s Learn to Ski/Snowboard Freedom Pass Program has been a hit with guests up on the mountain and now ski areas around the country are taking notice.

Nominated for the second consecutive year, Mission Ridge beat out Whislter Blackcomb in British Columbia, Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, and Boreal Mountain Resort in California. The Conversion Cup trophy, which travels around the country annually, resided last year in Massachusetts at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area. Other past winners of the prestigious award include Killington Ski Resort in Vermont, Camelback Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania, Mountain Creek in New Jersey, and Mt. Bachelor in Oregon.

“Being nominated two straight years and being mentioned along side the other resort nominees has itself been a tremendous honor,” said Tony Hickok Mission Ridge’s Marketing Director. “But winning and being able to deliver this trophy to Wenatchee and to all of our staff is the real honor. A program like the Learn to SKi/Snowboard Freedom Pass takes the commitment of the entire mountain and especially our Ski School, Rental, and Ticketing staffs. Not only has this program given nearly 2,000 people who had never experienced skiing or snowboarding the opportunity to fall in love with the sport, it also brought us together as an organization. It has made our mountain family an even tighter knit group,” Hickok continued.

Mission Ridge’s Freedom Pass program provided unlimited beginner lessons, gear rentals, and beginner terrain access for the entire season for just $159. The program is designed to give new skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to transition from never having skied or snowboarded to feeling confident in their abilities and excited to explore more of the mountain.

There are several events for participants and spectators over the main Apple Blossom Festival weekend. The Tour de Bloom Cycling Race is a three day event that includes a Leavenworth Road Race on Friday May 5, The Mission Ridge Hill Climb  and the Downtown Wenatchee Criterium on Saturday, and the Waterville Road Race on Sunday.
The 26th Apple Blossom Run will once again take place prior to the Grand Parade Saturday, and will be on the parade route. Then, following the parade, the Rugrat Nation 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament, for boys & girls grades K-3, is at Pybus Public Market starting at 2pm. There’s even more basketball action throughout Saturday and Sunday at Wenatchee Valley College, with the Apple Blossom Festival 3-on-3 Tournament. All of these events are free to spectators.

In the sports tourism business, there often is a gradual transformation from one season to the other. Some ‘downtime’ between the end of seasonal sports, and the beginning of the next round. I am always reminded this time of year that is not the case when going from winter to spring in the Wenatchee Valley. As an example, the weekend of March 25th saw not only the culmination of the 6-day FIS Regional Open Ski Races at Mission Ridge, but also a 32 team lacrosse tournament at Walla Walla Point Park. The next two weekends saw the Buddy Werner Ski Championships at MR, and the 135 team Triple Crown Youth Baseball Tournament that utilized nearly every baseball diamond in the Wenatchee Valley (26 actually).
The simultaneous scheduling between significant skiing competitions and field events such as golf, lacrosse and baseball is unusual and mostly impossible to pull off in most regions in the world. But that is one of the unique features of where we live, affording residents the opportunity to enjoy two completely different sports seasons at the same time. And the economic impact coming in from 2 different directions concurrently is a major bonus. March and April, considered to be a shoulder season in many areas of the Pacific Northwest, will account for well over $2.5 million in estimated sports tourism economic impact in the Valley. A tremendous boost to hotels, restaurants and retailers at a time most areas are in the process of shifting gears into spring. No shifting of gears here. Just the pedal to the floor.
The momentum kept moving forward last Saturday with the Wenatchee Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10K Races. Approximately 700 participants not only got to enjoy the surroundings the course offers, but for serious racers, it served as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Even more importantly, proceeds from the race go to cancer research and local charities. Throw in the $200,000+ being spent by visitors at area businesses, and it becomes obvious there are a lot of positive ramifications coming from this event alone. And to showcase our versatility even further, Saturday also signaled the opening weekend of the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval, the first of 13 race dates scheduled there in 2017.
Through the rest of April, there are four more softball tournaments, plus the Horse Lake Trail Runs on the 29th. No ‘downtime’
in these parts whether you are a participant, spectator, or are reaping the benefits from a business perspective.

Matt Kearny is Sports Tourism Coordinator for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or

This year we kicked off our new social media and blog series called 365 Things To Do In NCW. Every day we’ll publish a post via Visit Wenatchee on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with one amazing thing to do in the Wenatchee Valley.

The object is to highlight all the amazing things you can do in our wonderfully unique and geographically diverse part of this Pacific Northwest paradise we call home. From rock climbing the Pallasades to wakeboarding on the Columbia to wine tasting at Chateau Faire le Pont to skiing at Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort, there are tons of amazing things to experience in and around the Wenatchee Valley.

And we want to hear from you! What are some of your favorite activities and experiences from North Central Washington?

Do you have a favorite trail, fishing hole, winery, bed and breakfast, sweeping vista, lovely restaurant or some other awesome North Central Washington experience you’d like to share? Leave it as a comment below, tweet it or email it to us!

Post them to our Facebook page, tweet them at us at @VisitWenatchee or email us at and you could get featured online and in upcoming print promotions!

If we use your suggestion and or photos we’ll give you credit and feature you on

Happy exploring friends!

RunWenatchee will host the Trails In Motion International Film Festival at 7 p.m., Friday, March 24, at the Numerica Performing Arts Center
in downtown Wenatchee.
The event features seven trail running films with such themes as perseverance and individual quirkiness, while showcasing some of the world’s most breathtaking running destinations. Total running time for the seven films is two hours. Prior to the film screenings, world-renowned trail runner
Krissy Moehl will be on hand for a Q&A and book-signing, and more than a dozen local outdoor recreation and health organizations will be having a mini-expo. In addition, RunWenatchee will be holding a raffle, and beer, wine and soda will be served.

Doors open at 5 p.m.
“Trail running is in our DNA here in the Wenatchee Valley and this is RunWenatchee’s way to kick off the trail running season and to entertain folks and to have some fun,” said Joel Rhyner of RunWenatchee. “The films are quite good and will leave everyone inspired.”
Tickets are $12 and can be bought at the Numerica PAC box office or online

The 38th Annual Regional High School Art Show is on display at the Wenatchee Valley Museum through May 6.  Regional Awards were presented on Saturday, March 11, to the winners in eight different categories plus “Best of Show” at this year’s Award Ceremony. Jurors chose from pieces submitted by students from 15 North Central Washington schools, with the “Best of Show” selections advancing to statewide competition in Olympia in April. All award winners received certificates and medals. The show is made possible each year through the sponsorship of the North Central Educational Service District and partnership with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

For the second year, Central Washington University also awarded a number of Tuition Waiver Scholarships from the CWU Art Department at the Ceremony. Professor Ellen Avett presented these awards:

Lucy Bordner from Chelan High School – $3,000 for the drawing “Amelia Bordner”

Caulan Culp from Okanogan High School – $3,000 for the photograph “Solitude”

Manuel Laurel from Wenatchee High School – $2,000 for the photograph “Sad Brother”

Bella Hansen from Okanogan High School – $2,000 for the mixed media “Lung Diseases”

Cory Knaggs from Eastmont High School – $1,000 for the photograph “Umbrella”

Amilia Anic from Okanogan High School – $1,000 for the drawing “The Monster Within”

This year’s judges for the Regional Awards were Alessandra Piro, artist from Wenatchee; Sheryl Smith, artist and educator from Wenatchee; Keith Lewis, artist & professor at Central Washington University. They worked for hours carefully judging all of the works (student names and schools are kept secret throughout the process). Here are their choices for the awards:

BEST OF SHOW – These 12 works will move on to the state show in Olympia

Home grown hoofers from Minneapolis are coming to the Numerica Performing Arts Center on April 18 at 7:30pm.  With a trunk full of tap shoes, funky costumes, and a big brass band, get ready for Rhythmic Circus. ’ FEET DON’T FAIL ME NOW!, an upbeat parade of genre-hopping music and hard-hitting percussive dance joined by “human beatbox” Heatbox. This performance was made possible by Dennis & Sharron Johnson, Frank Kuntz, Grace Lynch, and Earl & Barbara Tilly.

Since the founding of the troupe in 2007, Rhythmic Circus has grown into an international sensation touring over 100 cities worldwide. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now! premiered in August 2008 when the group’s dancers and founders joined forces with the seven Twin Cities’ heavyweight musicians in Minnesota. Together, they combined rapid-fire tap with a variety of musical genres. In 2012 the troupe was the winner of the Edinburgh Festival “Spirit of the Fringe” Award.

“We created Feet Don’t Fail Me Now! out of the desire to get people back in touch with the spirit of celebration. The show helps remind our audiences that there is always a reason to get up, let go and dance,” said Rhythmic Circus’ co-creator Nick Bowman. “The name of our show comes from an old New Orleans chant dating back to the early 1900’s- a time when the city was rich with culture and spirit; they literally had parades every Sunday just to celebrate their lives and community. Rhythmic Circus has adopted the chant as more of a rallying cry. We have been ecstatic to see it strike a chord with people everywhere from our home town to Off-Broadway and all the way across the globe.”

The company’s repute goes beyond the sum of the dancers’ talents; themed pieces include costume changes and musical segues that highlight the funky styling of a seven-piece band. With their combined and highly integrated talents, the dancers and musicians are known for leaving audiences on their feet and dancing.

Tickets to Feet Don’t Fail Me Now! are $25-$29 with discounts for seniors ($21-$25) and youth ($19-$23) and increased prices on show day. This show is supported by The Freytag Group and Susan & Rick Rose. For tickets and information, call 509-663-ARTS, go to, or visit the Box Office at the Stanley Civic Center, 123 N Wenatchee Avenue.

The Numerica Performing Arts Center at the Stanley Civic Center is a non-profit organization and naming partner with Numerica Credit Union.


2016 was a record-setting year for sports tourism spending in the Wenatchee Valley. Bolstered by economic impact in a wide variety of categories, an estimated $8.35 million was spent here by visitors participating in or attending tournaments and events, according to analysis compiled by Wenatchee Valley Sports. This is up 9.7% over the previous high, set in 2015. Sports impact has been measured in the Wenatchee Valley annually since 2007. Youth baseball/softball led the way at $1.17m, followed by adult softball at $1.06m. Next, in order, are Special Olympics Winter Games, ski racing at Mission Ridge, running, and youth basketball.

Overall numbers were bolstered by the US Figure Skating Regionals in October at Town Toyota Center, State Gymnastics competition in April, and strong showings by swimming, youth hockey and cycling. The largest single event in terms of economic impact was the Washington Winter Games Special Olympics in March, generating an estimated $616,937. They will return for their 26th year here March 3-5. It’s important to note that these figures include spending only by visitors, not locals, and for tournaments and events, not general recreation.

Two popular local entities that provide strong overall economic impact are the Wenatchee Wild and Wenatchee AppleSox. Those teams and others such as the Rams and Wenatchee FC were heavily dependent on spending by locals…very important in terms of overall economic impact, but not so on the tourism side of the equation. A number of business categories reap the benefits of sports tourism, most notably lodging and food. It is estimated these events drove 27,676 room nights in 2016, also a record, and an increase of 2,000+ over the previous year. This contributed to the success lodging in the Wenatchee Valley experienced in 2016, which realized a 2.1% overall increase in occupancy for the year.

Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center celebrates First Friday on February 3rd from 10am to 8pm with free admission.  This marks the beginning of the end for the popular “Beacon of Friendship” exhibit, which closes February 11th.

“Beacon of Friendship has been extremely successful,” Exhibits Curator Kasey Koski explains. “There has been great interest in the many tokens and treasures brought back from our sister city in Misawa, Japan.”

According to Koski, it’s been nearly 30 years since the 17th century Ronin prints were on display, as well. “Having such a large, important collection of prints is a real coupe for a museum of our size. I’m glad we were able to showcase them as a part of this exhibit.”

There is still time to come sit in the stylized tea house, make your own origami creation, practice your calligraphy or write a haiku. Plan for a full hour and watch the entire “Upside Down Pang” video. Come enjoy the beauty of the many kimonos and banners brought back from numerous sister city exchanges.

Up next in the featured gallery will be the annual high school art show. The 38th Annual Regional High School Art Show is sponsored by the museum in cooperation with the North Central Educational Service District and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction each year. Look for it’s opening on Friday, March 3rd.

RunWenatchee will host three world-renowned ultrarunners this spring in conjunction with its events.

Max King, Krissy Moehl and Jeff Browning will hold question-and-answer sessions and participate in other activities during separate visits to Wenatchee. The Q&A presentations will be free and open to the public.

“Our goal with RunWenatchee has been to not only put on great events, but also to educate and energize our running and outdoor communities,” said Joel Rhyner of RunWenatchee. “With guest speakers like Max, Krissy and Jeff, we definitely have some of the best runners in the country coming to Wenatchee to do just that. All runners and outdoor athletes will benefit from their expertise in training, nutrition, racing and injury prevention.”

“Their appearances also will cast a spotlight on the amazing trails we have in the Wenatchee Foothills and Chelan County for trail running,” added Steve Maher of RunWenatchee.

Here is the lineup:

March 16, 6:30 p.m., Pybus Event Center: King, a Bend, Ore., resident dubbed “running’s renaissance man,” will hold a Q&A and a Salomon shoe demo. King’s appearance will take place following RunWenatchee’s St. Paddy’s Day club run event that same night at Pybus.

King, 36, won the 2014 IAU 100-Kilometer World Championships and the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships. In 2016, he earned the bronze medal at the 2016 NACAC Cross County Championships. He also has won several national titles at distances ranging from the half- marathon to various ultramarathons.

For more on King:

March 24, 6 p.m., Numerica Performing Arts Center: Moehl of Bellingham will hold a Q & A

and sign copies of her book, “Running Your First Ultra,” during the Trails In Motion Film Festival. Moehl’s appearance will occur prior to the 7 p.m. film fest’s start.

In 2005, Moehl became the first woman to complete the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning — which recognizes those who complete four of the oldest 100-mile trail runs in the United States. In 2007, she set the woman’s record for the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. She has won several ultramarathons, including the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in 2003 and 2009, the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2004, and the Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji in 2013. Moehl also is the race director of the Chuckanut 50K in Fairhaven.

For more on Moehl:

May 19, 6 p.m., Pybus Public Market: Browning of Bend, Ore., will do a Q&A following packet pickup for the Red Devil Challenge Trail Runs. The following day, Browning will participate in the Red Devil 25K Trail Run, put on by RunWenatchee in the Wenatchee National Forest south of Cashmere.

In both 2005 and 2006, Browning captured the Big Horn 100 Mile Wild and Scenic Trail Runs in Wyoming. Closer to home, he has won the Cascade Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run.

For more on Browning:

For tickets to the March 24 Trails In Motion Film Festival:  click here

For more RunWenatchee’s runs, events and news.