As the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce gears up for its annual awards gala, the recipient of one award has already been announced. Longtime Valleyfest organizer Peggy Doering has been named the 2009 Harry E. Nelson Citizen of the Year.
“It’s very exciting to get this award,” Doering said. “It’s kind of fun.”
Each year’s recipient is selected by previous winners of the award, which includes the Rev. Ian Robertson and former City Council members Diana Wilhite and Mike DeVleming. The award was given in recognition of Doering’s long involvement with the Valleyfest community event held every September, said Valley Chamber of Commerce director of promotions and events Vicki Johnson. “She’s been involved since the very beginning and stuck with it,” Johnson said. “She’s the reason it has been so successful.”
Doering confessed that the award caught her off guard. “I was totally surprised,” she said. “I had no idea. It really is an honor.”
She got involved in Valleyfest the second year of its existence because she met founder Sue Delucchi when both volunteered at a local school. “It was just the friends and neighbors and Sue,” she said.
Initially Doering was asked to head up the food committee, and it just grew from there. “I don’t say no very often, and I didn’t say no to Sue,” she said.
When Delucchi moved away in 1995, Doering was the only one willing to take over the annual event. “I’m the oldest of six kids,” she said. “I tend to just go in and take over, but I’m very sweet and mild mannered.”
But in those days Valleyfest was a small operation that wasn’t complicated to plan. Under Doering’s leadership it has expanded into a three-day event that takes most of the year to plan. The annual gathering is in it’s 21st year. “I had no idea I would be doing it this long,” she said.
While her recognition is tied to her involvement in Valleyfest, that’s not all Doering is involved in. She’s on the YMCA advisory board and the Spokane Valley Arts Council. She volunteers regularly with Valley Meals on Wheels and has had a long association with the Boy Scouts. She also oversees the annual Silver Valley Fourth of July celebration in Idaho, where she and her husband own property.
People seem to know that she has a soft spot for helping others, Doering joked. “I don’t say no,” she said. “I really don’t say no.”
Still, all the work is worth it, Doering said. “I have fun. A community has to have fun and play.”