Organizers: For Balloon Stampede to succeed, help we need


The unseasonable weather may have you thinking of spring. And that's just perfect for coordinators of the annual Balloon Stampede, who are seeking volunteers for the May event.

The first volunteer meeting of the year for the hot-air-balloon festival will take place Jan. 23. Anyone interested in helping out with the communitywide event may attend the meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce board room.

No job or detail is too big or small, organizers say. People with all kinds of schedules and talents are invited to participate.

This year's 38th annual Balloon Stampede will take place May 11-13 at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds. This year's theme is "Splendor in the Sky," a reference to the beauty of balloons over the Walla Walla Valley.

Volunteers are integral to the event's operation. From chase teams to event staff, the Stampede is possible because of the time and efforts of local residents. Anyone interested in participating this year is asked to attend the meeting or contact Betsy Hadden at the Chamber at 525-0850 or

The Chamber is also seeking artists to design the Stampede poster.

Designs can be any form of artwork, including drawings, paintings, photographs, graphic design and the like. All designs must include the official title -- Walla Walla Balloon Stampede presented by Gesa Credit Union; the event dates; the anniversary -- 38th annual; and must incorporate the theme. Artistic proposals must be submitted by Jan. 20 to the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce office, 29 E. Sumach St.


A familiar face in Washington's wine scene will be the head of events and public relations for Charles Smith Wines.

Madeline Dow, former marketing manager for the Washington Wine Commission, has joined the Walla Walla winery in the new position, according to an announcement Monday.

Dow will be based in Seattle, where her focus will be increasing national and international awareness of Walla Walla winemaker Charles Smith and his wines.

Raised in the wine industry, Dow developed a global wine palate with the help of her father, Peter Dow, owner of Seattle-based Cavatappi Winery and founder of importer/distributor Cavatappi Distribuzione.

In her years with the Wine Commission, Dow helped coordinate the Washington Wine Restaurant Awards, Washington Wine Month programs, The New Vintage, and other marketing campaigns and activities.

Smith said he created the new position specifically to bring Dow to his team when she became available.

"That is how important I feel she is to the Washington wine industry," he said in a statement.

He said 2012 should be an exciting year for Charles Smith Wines, which includes brands K Vintners, Charles Smith Wines, The Charles Smith Family, Charles amp; Charles and Secco.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at or 526-8321.


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