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City wants lavender groups to work together
In an effort to promote Lavender Weekend equitably, the City of Sequim recently issued a memorandum to Sequim’s top two lavender groups.
It encourages cooperation between the Sequim Lavender Growers Association and Sequim Lavender Farmers Association. If both groups approve the memorandum, they’ll work with the city to use unified websites in addition to their own and advertise together while maintaining separate finances.
Barbara Hanna, communications and marketing director, said city staff and visitors observed problems coordinating messages to visitors of the Sequim Lavender Festival and Sequim Lavender Farm Faire held simultaneously. This year they both run July 20-22.
She and others identified a need for improving communication, which the memorandum states (see the full PDF memorandum HERE). Other specific items include a coordinated signage plan, a shared shuttle plan and neutral information booths throughout town.
As of press time, the Lavender Farmers Association has committed to the memorandum but the Lavender Growers Association has not.
Scott Nagel, executive director for the farmers group, said they’ve been working with the city to solve any confusion about the two lavender events.
“The memorandum is just formalizing what’s been discussed between the two groups and the city,” Nagel said. “It covers all the things necessary to bring back lavender tourists and have a good Lavender Weekend.”
Paul Jendrucko, media relations representative for the growers group, said all the doors are still open about partnering and agreeing to the memorandum.
“We don’t view any of this as a deal-breaker in promoting the No. 1 lavender festival in North America one way or the other,” he said.
The growers group plans to reply to the city in writing before both groups meet with the city on Feb. 17, when they’ll discuss permits and contracts.
“We view any contract negotiations as private and confidential and we’re going to exercise those rules as common respect to the city and all parties,” Jendrucko said.
One possible point of contention is that the growers group has created its own website www.sequimlavenderfestivalweekend.com as a complementary site to its Lavender Festival site (see sidebar).
Hanna said the farmers group obtained the rights to the URLs www.lavenderweekend.com and www.sequimlavenderweekend.com before giving them to the city. Visiting the sites automatically takes viewers to the city’s tourism site www.visitsunnysequim.com.
The memorandum asks that the growers site and all future Lavender Weekend related sites go to the city’s site.
Hanna said the city’s intent is to create a place where it could explain everything that’s going on at the two different festivals neutrally. She said she hasn’t spoken with the growers group regarding the site.
Jendrucko said their intentions with the new site are to promote Sequim as the Lavender Capital of the North America and as a hometown, directory informational portal for things that are happening in Sequim, such as a daily bulletin board.
The term Sequim Lavender Festival Weekend is in the process of being trademarked by the growers and will continue to be updated, Jendrucko said.
One advantage for both groups to partner with the city includes optional matching funds worth $2,500 from each group — for a total of $10,000 — to advertise Lavender Weekend. The catch is that both groups must agree.
Hanna said since the groups went their separate ways last year, there wasn’t as much regional and national advertising. Last year, a three-year contract between the city and the growers group expired; the contract paid for overtime to police and public works staff from lodging tax dollars. The farmers group didn’t have a contract with the city, but city staff still supported both events.
Part of the city’s proposed contract outlines the level of support from lodging tax dollars: A portion of each stay in a hotel, bed and breakfast or commercial lodging goes into the fund for tourism.
Nagel said the matching funds are significant.
“It’s important visitors keep coming,” he said. “Nobody cares there are two groups. They just want to hear that the two groups are working together.”
Nagel said the success of the festivals leaves millions of dollars in jeopardy for the local economy.
“The city has every reason to get us to work together and make this work,” Nagel said.
“If this goes bad, it’s a much bigger problem. It’s crucial. (The memorandum) will help us both and has potential to bring in more people.”
Jendrucko said any perceived confusion didn’t affect growers’ farms and their traffic flow didn’t imply a lot of confusion.
“As evidenced by the attendance and smiling faces to the farmers, people knew where they wanted to go,” he said. “At the street fair, in our booth, I did not hear one comment of frustration. Others are suggesting there’s a big wave of confusion, but it hasn’t been forwarded to us.”
Reach Matthew Nash at email@example.com.