Chambers loaded with holiday activities

Sultan Winterfest promotes buying local, Light Up Monroe shines on downtown businesses

By Chris Hendrickson

The holiday season has officially arrived, and the Monroe and Sky Valley chambers of commerce invite the community to attend their annual holiday festivities.

Organized by the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sultan’s Winterfest combines the Sky Valley’s largest craft fair of the gift-giving season with other events, providing a full day of family-friendly holiday activities. Similarly, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce Light Up Monroe event is expanding this year, and is also being held in conjunction with other local events to maximize the day.

Each event culminates in a traditional tree-lighting ceremony that includes refreshments and photos with Santa Claus. Both Winterfest and Light Up Monroe take place on Saturday, Dec. 3.

Sultan Winterfest

The ideal event for holiday shopping, Winterfest takes place 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sultan High School. Organized by Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce volunteer events coordinator Elizabeth Emmons, the craft and business fair features more than 80 different vendor booths, live musical performances by local youth, visits with Santa Claus and a variety of free activities for kids throughout the day.

This year’s Winterfest features numerous returning vendors and several new ones.

Scottish Thistle Farm will offer fresh honey and handmade beeswax candles, while Sivewright Studios artist Christina Sivewright will have a selection of original paintings and prints available for purchase. Other newcomers include Starflower Jewelry, Seattle-based Green is Groovy and Baring, Washington-based Be Chillin, owned by Baring resident Charlie Preston. 

“They make the coolest laser-cut, metal ornaments,” said Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce Director Debbie Copple. “His metal work is really amazing and it’s super affordable.”

Embroidery for the Soul owner Elizabeth LaZella will have her embroidery machine on site, so people can see how it works. Embroidery for the Soul takes custom orders and offers competitive pricing, Copple said.

Winterfest will include opportunities for service, such as supporting the Dave Wood Giving Tree program that Volunteers of America organizes every year. Raffle tickets to win items donated by Winterfest vendors will be sold to guests will be sold throughout the day. All the money raised in the raffles will support the Giving Tree program, which provides Christmas gifts to Sky Valley kids in need. This year’s Giving Tree efforts will focus on basic needs items, including warm clothing, shoes and food. 

There are also incentives for shopping. Like last year, every purchase at Winterfest provides the shopper with an opportunity to win a ski package that includes a one-night stay at the Dutch Cup Motel. The winner will be drawn at the tree lighting ceremony.

Santa’s Café will be operated by Gold Dust Pageant Royalty, who will offer biscuits and gravy, muffins and donuts for breakfast, and soups, chili, salads, a baked potato bar and hot dogs for lunch. All the money raised at Santa’s Café will be used to purchase jackets for pageant royalty and provide scholarships to cover pageant entry fees.

The Gold Dust Royalty Pageant is a customer-service pageant held every July that encourages community outreach and volunteerism.

New to the event schedule this year is a lighted classic car cruise that starts at 5 p.m., shortly after Winterfest wraps up. The hope is that people will deck out classic cars, trucks and other vehicles in Christmas lights before taking them for a spin through the city. The lighted cruise will make a circular lap through Sultan until around 6:30 p.m., at which point the cars will head over to the gazebo for the tree-lighting celebration.  

“We’ve got these things all lined up, so you don’t have to miss anything,” Copple said.

Sultan’s Tree Lighting Celebration committee is headed up by former Sultan City Councilmember Ken Marshall and Logger’s owner Leo Moreno, who put the Christmas tree in position over the weekend. Sultan’s River Park Gazebo will be transformed into a cozy, Christmas-themed sanctuary, complete with burn barrels set up by Snohomish County Fire District 5 to keep everybody warm. 

It creates almost a cabin-like environment, Copple said. No matter the weather, she said people will be able to stay warm and dry during the celebration.

In line with tradition, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be escorted to the event on a fire truck and be available for photos, which will be taken by Crosswater Community Church volunteers. The event includes cookies, hot chocolate, hot apple cider and a Christmas carol sing-along.

Light Up Monroe

The bulk of the annual Light Up Monroe events will be returning downtown this year, including the tree lighting, which takes place in its traditional location on the corner of Main and Lewis streets.

The Monroe Chamber of Commerce, with support from the Downtown Monroe Association, Poppy Seed Productions and Marteam Photography, is coordinating this year’s festivities. Sponsors include the city of Monroe, Columbia Bank and Community Transit. 

“The goal for the 2016 celebration is to produce even more wonderful memory-making experiences that showcase the small-town heart of Monroe,” wrote the chamber in a news release. “The chamber and committee are excited to provide the community a quality, family-oriented holiday celebration while strongly supporting the small businesses around town.”

From 10-11:30 a.m., holiday shoppers are invited to attend Breakfast with Santa at Big Daddy John’s restaurant, located at 114 N. Lewis St. in downtown Monroe. The event includes a buffet-style breakfast of pancakes, link sausage, hash brown potatoes, apple juice, hot chocolate, coffee, as well as arts and crafts, music and one digital photo per family from Kayla J Photography.

Breakfast with Santa is coordinated by Poppy Seed Productions founder Molly Daniels, and tickets should be purchased in advance. The cost is $15 per person.

The Monroe Chamber of Commerce will welcome guests at the Visitor Information Center from noon to 4:30 p.m. for free photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Guests are invited to bring their own cameras to capture the perfect holiday photos of their kids. Simultaneously, from noon to 3 p.m., the Monroe Historical Society will welcome guests to its holiday open house event at 207 E. Main St. The event will include a tour of historic Monroe City Hall and offer cookies.

Local musicians will take to the streets of downtown Monroe, singing Christmas carols from 3-5 p.m.

Downtown businesses will offer holiday specials and there will be opportunities for holiday shopping at Old St. Nick’s, including a wide variety of hand-crafted items, décor, clothing, jewelry made by local crafters, handmade soaps and other body products, original art, greeting cards and much more. Old St. Nick’s is located at 114 N. Lewis St.

The tree-lighting celebration takes place at 5 p.m., at the corner of Main and Lewis.  

“Light Up Monroe is a great, family-oriented holiday celebration that welcomes residents to downtown,” said Monroe Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Yvonne Gallardo-Van Ornam. “Don’t forget your cameras, umbrellas and warm coasts because the day is filled with fun events, activities and promotions.”

For more information about Breakfast with Santa, or to purchase tickets, visit


Photo by Chris Hendrickson: Families are invited to stop by the Monroe Chamber of Commerce for photos with Santa Claus, from 12 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment