Northwest Winterfest, a holiday-themed event scheduled to take place in Spokane Valley later this year, has been postponed due to concerns with the trade conflict between the U.S. and China.
The event, to celebrate the region’s diverse cultures with food, decorations and performances, was scheduled for Nov. 29 to Dec. 31 at Mirabeau Meadows, but will be postponed to 2020 because of a potential increase in tariffs on fabric and steel imported from China.
The Trump administration announced plans in May to increase tariffs from 10% to 25% on more than $200 billion of goods from China and has threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion of goods after talks stalled between the two countries.
Northwest Winterfest organizers Sam Song and Charity Doyl were planning to ship more than 10 containers full of decorations from Shanghai to Spokane Valley for the event, which features large, interactive, lighted displays of a North Pole village, a 160-foot dragon and a Christmas tree, among other things.
The decorations were to be partially built in China and constructed by more than 2,000 artisans.
“Not only the cost of shipping materials from China will go up substantially, but also it has become increasingly difficult to apply for visas for artisans,” Song said in a news release. “Political events can have major impacts on hosting large-scale events like ours.”
The event was expected to cost anywhere from $575,000 to $750,000. The City Council voted in favor of the event at a March meeting.
Spokane Valley Parks Director Mike Stone said the city has no plans for a replacement event at Mirabeau Meadows this year and is looking forward to partnering with Song and Doyl on Northwest Winterfest in 2020.
“Our intention would be to work with Sam and his organization and host it next holiday season,” he said. “We have no reason to believe it’s not going to be a wonderful event.”
Song was instrumental in bringing the Chinese Lantern Festival to downtown Spokane in 2015, which drew more than 80,000 people to Riverfront Park and created an economic impact of $4.6 million, according to Visit Spokane.
Song and Doyl also organized a Winterfest event last year that featured Christmas trees and performances at River Park Square and the Spokane Public Library.
Song said they are planning to host a series of regional holiday events this year, such as a Christmas and New Year’s event at NorthTown Mall, a Christmas tree of unity at the Mirabeau Park Hotel and a New Year’s event at the Spokane Public Library in downtown Spokane that will offer cultural performances and a craft fair.
Song added he’s appreciative of support from Spokane Valley and partners with the Mirabeau Park Hotel.
“We sure plan to make this event happen next year as long as the trade relationship with China does not deteriorate,” he said.
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