The Sumner Downtown Association has entered into a sister city relationship between Sumner and Silverton, Ore.
Laurie Miller, the executive director of the SDA, made the three-hour trip on Jan. 18 to Silverton, a community of 10,000 about 12 miles east of Salem.
Once there, she presented Stacy Palmer, executive director of the Silverton Chamber and Visitor’s Center, a gift basket full of all things Sumner, including Berryland Cafe’s strawberry rhubarb pies; a rhubarb cookbook; bottles of rhubarb wine with four Rhubarb Days wine glasses; rhubarb and strawberry jewelry; and T-shirts from several Sumner events.
“During my visit, I took the Historic Walking Tour, the mural tour (20 in all), met with representatives of the Oregon Garden Resort and especially took time to visit with as many merchants as possible to introduce myself, explain why I was there and share some ideas,” Miller said. “The Sumner Downtown Association was warmly welcomed, and I could see there was a true excitement for the adventure we will embark upon as sister cities.”
Palmer said she was equally excited to host Miller for the weekend visit.
“In February, we will be kicking off the promotion of the Sister City relationship,” Palmer said. “We’re looking forward to sharing all the great things about Silverton.
“We’re very excited,” she added. “ We’re hoping that, by building on a Sister City relationship, we can each benefit on day trips, overnight stays and awareness of the area.”
Palmer said she had no idea that Sumner calls itself the rhubarb capital of the world.
When Miller joined the Sumner Downtown Association last year, the organization’s board of directors made it a goal to reach out and form a relationship with a community similar to Sumner.
“After accepting this position, it was encouraged to think outside the box, promote Sumner and bring business to town, while putting heads in hotel beds,” Miller said. “With that in mind, and after residing in Silverton before, I thought the best fit would be to join together two like communities, and yet, two communities that were different.”
Miller said the towns are similar in respect to farming and being bedroom and walkable communities. In contrast, Miller said Sumner is conservative and Silverton is liberal.
“Sumner has very unique antique stores and boutique shops,” Miller said. “Silverton has jewelry stores and art galleries.”
And, like Sumner, with its restaurants, Silverton has nice cuisine, Miller said.
“Some of the best cuisine you will find is in Silverton,” she said.
During her visit, Miller tried the Silver Grill and enjoyed its pumpkin ravioli with carrots, brussels sprouts and celery, a dinner salad with cranberries, pine nuts and blue cheese crumbles and a glass of Pinot Grigio.
“Service is impeccable,” Miller said.
Silverton, like Sumner, has its unique character. It is well-known for its strawberries and has an annual Strawberry Festival on Father’s Day in June. It is the hometown of Homer Davenport, the first syndicated political cartoonist in the country.
And Silverton has an interesting story in Bobbie the Wonder Dog, who traveled to Indiana with his family in the 1920s and got lost. His family returned and, three months later, Bobbie surprisingly found his way home cross-country.
Today, there is a mural in town that’s dedicated to the story.
Both Miller and Palmer hope mutual benefits will include discounted hotel stays for residents of Sumner and Silverton, incentive shopping at local merchants and a continuous sharing of ideas to spur continuous economic development and tourism for the respective communities.
Pairing with Prosser
In 2009, the City of Sumner began a relationship with Prosser in eastern Washington. Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow, the city council and staff members thought Prosser’s wine country would pair well with Sumner’s rhubarb roots. This relationship is ongoing today.Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.