Mark your calendars! It’s a new year and there are many community events to look forward to in 2022. Over the next 12 months, the Yelm Chamber of Commerce will host a variety of celebrations, some relatively new and others returning after a COVID-related break. The main message? “Get involved,” says chamber President Dan Nicholson. “Follow the chamber on social media, tell your friends about events and sign up if you’re interested because we need your participation.”
Chamber Executive Director Line Roy agrees. “For people who want to be involved, it helps to start early,” she says. “We’re accepting sponsorship applications for the Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally and applications for the Nisqually Valley Home & Garden Show now and in a couple of weeks, we’ll be opening nominations for the Chamber Business Awards.”
Aside from chamber events, Yelm will also host several independent festivals in 2022, including Jazz in the Park and the Mermaid Festival. Here are the main chamber-sponsored events happening in Yelm in 2022.
Nisqually Valley Home & Garden Show
This popular annual event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this year it’s back. During the last weekend in April, dozens of local vendors from businesses and nonprofit organizations will gather at Yelm High School to promote their organizations and attract new clients. Thousands typically visit the event, drawn to the workshops, vendors and educational presentations.
Yelm Chamber Business Awards
For the fourth year, the Chamber will recognize exemplary local organizations in six categories. A committee within the Chamber vets the nominees and chooses the winners, who receive the awards at the July Chamber meeting. Categories include the Wagon Wheel Commitment to Community Award for community service; Pride of the Prairie for beautification and improvements; Nisqually Award for commitment to the environment; Mount Rainier Award for new and emerging businesses; Legacy Award for businesses lasting more than 20 years; and the Fay Fuller Award for business or organizational leadership.
Nisqually Valley BBQ Rally
Now in its third year, the July 23 rally features amateur and professional barbecue contests, live music, a beer garden, local business vendors and plenty of great food. In 2021, thousands flocked to Yelm City Park to sample barbecue and enjoy the ambiance. “Every year we make it a little different and a little bit better,” says Nicholson, who founded the event with his wife Shelley. “We’re very excited about it.” Sponsorship and vendor forms are available now at the rally’s website.
Best of Nisqually Contest and Gala
Each year Yelm residents can vote for their favorite individuals and organizations in nearly 100 categories ranging from best burger to best lawyer. Approximately 20% of the categories are food-related, others cover professional services, individual grocery clerks and restaurant servers and more. In November, the chamber hosts the Best of Nisqually Gala to distribute awards and celebrate the winners.
Christmas in the Park / Winter Market
Christmas in the Park is a longstanding tradition in Yelm, and in 2021 the chamber added a winter market for holiday shoppers and Lights at Night, a community Christmas tree and a menorah lighting ceremony. “People loved it,” says Nicholson. “It’s a great opportunity for local vendors to sell their wares and everyone got excited about Lights at Night. We had a lot of participation last year and anticipate growing in 2022.”
One thing that was missing in 2021 was the usual Christmas in the Park parade. The annual Prairie Days parade was also canceled in 2021 due to a lack of participants. “I think it was due to COVID and a lot of different factors,” says Nicholson. “We heard from people after the fact that they missed the parades. It’s important for them to sign up. We need participation from the community to keep these types of activities alive.”
Roy wants people to know that Yelm has things happening year-round. “It’s an exciting place to be,” she says. “We’ve taken the past couple of years off from major events. Now we’re coming back full force.”
Learn more by visiting the Yelm Chamber of Commerce website or calling 360.458.6608.