Jamboree sellout is boost for all of Sweet Home

A sellout.

Those words have to deliver a little jolt of satisfaction to the people who have kept the Oregon Jamboree going over the years, who persevered through the difficulties, the naysayers, the inevitable downers that accompany such an enterprise.

After 14 years of ups and downs, a lot of those ups coming in the five years, the Jamboree has become an unqualified success.

Sure, we know some local residents groan about the inconveniences of noise, traffic, hordes of visitors and other abnormalities for a few summer days in our little city. But anyone who is thinking clearly has to see that the benefits far outweigh the downside. It’s often inconvenient to get out of bed in the morning and go to work too, but you do it because there are benefits.

For Sweet Home, which is in the process of reinventing itself, because the lumber industry probably isn’t coming back, and we need to do something to ensure our survival as a viable community, the Jamboree is a major success. It brought in a quarter million dollars last year in profits alone and this year is likely to exceed that.

And if you bothered to notice the visitors tromping up and down Long and Main streets Saturday and Sunday, you may have seen that many were there to spend money. You may also have noticed that there really aren’t a lot of places – yet – where visitors could spend a lot of money on the types of things they could carry away.

That needs to change.

Sweet Home has had several boosts lately, not all of them in the downtown area. We have a newly remodeled Mollies Bakery back in business. The long-vacant Cascade Hardware store is about to become a new gym that, if all goes as planned, will far exceed the current gym facilities. In fact, the building housing the current gym will, if all goes as planned, be leveled to make way for a new Subway sandwich shop.

Then, if you take a drive off Main Street, you’ll notice that some people around town are aggressively fixing up old, dilapidated homes with paint or more extensive repairs.

See a pattern developing here?

As Sweet Home continues to develop its downtown area, it needs to develop, as some have suggested, in line with a theme.

One strong option for any developer in the downtown would be to maintain the 1950s theme that already exists in businesses such as Dairy Queen, the Rio Theatre, Mollies, A&W, the American Barbershop, and a few other shops and enterprises along Main Street.

If you’re a tourist and you drive into a town that looks like a flashback to the good ol’ days, kind of like “Back to the Future,” even if you didn’t live back then, we bet you’d stop to check it out. You’d want to do a little shopping, buy some ice cream or a coffee, walk around a little.

That’s the kind of environment that would help Sweet Home, not just during the Jamboree but throughout the entire tourist season which, if we keep moving ahead, could get longer and longer as we come up with reasons for people to keep coming here.

Where Sweet Home goes next is not just up to a few housing developers or city officials. It’s up to property owners and citizens who can carry on the success modeled by the Jamboree.

Although the Sweet Home Economic Development Group puts on the Jamboree, and although it’s organized by Festival Director Peter LaPonte and his capable staff, it’s the 600 volunteers who really make it happen.

It’s you and you and you. It’s the people of Sweet Home who rose up and made this thing a success.

If this town is going to go to the next level, making itself more attractive to visitors, becoming more economically sound, it’s the citizens who will be behind it.