By Don Nelson
Now that we’ve all sprung forward, it’s only a matter of time before we start thinking beyond rut season (meaning the roads, not the bucks). As the mud dries, the dirty snow piles recede, the rivers begin rising and the days grow longer, spring will unfold and summer won’t be far behind.
A year ago, as the pandemic’s implications were beginning to land heavily on us all, it was impossible to know what to expect in the coming months. Our tourism-dependent economy was clearly threatened by a scourge that made travel, socializing and most indoor activities dangerous if not prohibitive.
This spring holds more promise and a bit more clarity, even as we continue the long battle against the coronavirus. We know more about the pandemic, and we have a year’s worth of dreadful and daunting experience to help us assess what’s possible and what’s still improbable. I hope that has made us more realistic, patient and determined.
At the newspaper, we are proceeding with optimism. With March barely halfway done, we are well into planning the content for our Methow Valley Summer 2021 magazine. You may recall that last year we delayed publishing the annual magazine, which usually appears in late April or early May, until July because of uncertainties about how COVID protocols would affect the tourism economy. It was smaller publication than usual and was branded “Methow Valley Summer/Fall 2020” to extend its usefulness.
Turns out the tourists found their way here in sometimes overwhelming numbers, despite the reduced services available under coronavirus restrictions. That trend continued through the winter recreation season. We likely can expect the same or more this summer, as the state eases into Phase 3 of the latest recovery plan (wasn’t there a Phase 3 last year, only different?). We’re planning Methow Valley Summer with that probability in mind, and with the fervent hope that there is a Phase 4 on the near horizon.
Last year’s experience demonstrated that, given any opportunity, people will flock here for outdoor recreation. That helps the hospitality and retail sectors, especially if they are allowed to accommodate more visitors. There are still uncertainties that complicate planning for a seasonal publication that is intended to be utilitarian for more than half a year. Organizers of traditional local events are cautiously developing plans, with necessary contingencies, to revive the attractions that were universally canceled last year. We’re working to get as much reliable information as we can before we go to press next month. As always, we would appreciate any help in making the magazine as comprehensive as possible.
Thousands of copies of Methow Valley Summer are distributed in and beyond the valley each year. We’ll be increasing the page count this year, bringing it closer to what we have produced in the past. We are developing some new features and reviving others.
The magazine is aimed primarily at visitors, but is also intended to be a valuable resource for residents. It’s a good thing to keep around if you need any kind of information about spending time in the valley, and how to take full advantage of what it offers.
It takes a lot of effort and by our reporters, editors, freelance writers and photographers, designers, proofreaders, ad staff, business manager and distributors to make a magazine like Methow Valley Summer come together. If you’ve never been in the publishing industry, it may be difficult to imagine how much planning and coordination are required to pull it off. Small glitches can morph into big problems. All the while, we are also working to get a weekly newspaper to the printer every Tuesday night.
We could not contemplate putting so much work into producing and distributing the magazine without the support of our advertisers. Our goal is always to provide high-quality content that advertisers can feel confident about being associated with. Their partnership makes it all possible.
Because we’re always looking ahead, we’re also developing plans for the annual Methow Made magazine, featuring the best of the valley’s talented producers. It seems like it’s never too soon to think about what’s next after what’s next.