It’s almost March and spring seems just around the corner but cold temperatures, blustery snowstorms and frigid winds are strong reminders that winter isn’t quite ready to release its icy grip on Minnesota. The Waconia Chamber of Commerce has the perfect solution — Escape to the Islands!
No, forget about booking a cruise or getting on an airplane. Stay right in Waconia on Saturday, March 2 and enjoy the 5th annual Escape to the Islands event, a tropical themed adventure consisting of great shopping, games, giveaways, pink flamingoes and more at 17 participating Waconia restaurants and businesses.
Summer Jensen, co-owner of The Stash of Waconia and chairwoman of the chamber’s board of directors, said the concept behind Escape to the Islands was to create a springtime event that’s similar to the chamber’s popular Sister Saturday event in May and DEAR (Divas Enjoying Awesome Retail) Hunting event in November. Sister Saturday is held on the fishing opener and DEAR Hunting takes place on the hunting opener.
“We wanted to create an event that would get people out and about thinking about spring with a tropical flair,” Jensen said. “It’s a fun day and I hope the event continues to grow. Sister Saturday and DEAR Hunting are well-oiled machines — to try and start another event and get it to that point takes a lot of work.”
In addition to all of the great bargains at the businesses and restaurants, Escape to the Islands will feature three special events, all of which are free for people to enjoy. The first one is the Artsy Market, featuring the work of 15 local artisans, held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Waconia Farm Supply Garden Center.
“We have so many customers who live in town and make and sell things online,” said Jensen, who noted that many local artists primarily sell their items through Etsy, a popular online marketplace where one can buy and/or sell handmade or vintage items, art and supplies. Jensen said the chamber thought it would be a great idea to include a one-day boutique for those local artists during Escape to the Islands. For more information, see article to the lower left.
“It’s an opportunity to grow our businesses by working together,” Jensen said. “We do these events to try to expose more people to Waconia and attract new businesses to town.”
The second event is “Cooking Under Pressure,” which will be held at 11 a.m. at Green Olive Catering. Attendees will learn about pressure cooking, a style that Jensen said is enjoying a surge in popularity. At the third event, people will learn about tropical drinks during a Mixology Class set for 2 p.m. at Hopper’s Bar and Grill.
Organizers are sure that people visiting Waconia for Escape to the Islands will enjoy themselves.
“What I love about our events is the extra energy that our participating shops put into making the day like an adventure for people,” said Kellie Sites, president of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce.
“They provide entertainment, deals, education … it’s just so fun!” Sites continued. “It fits right in with the chamber’s mission to promote a positive business environment to enhance the quality of life in our community. I just encourage everyone to come out for the day and explore all the options for shopping and dining that we have in Waconia. We are the city in the country! Invite your friends and family to spend the day in Waconia — it just might feel like you’re escaping to the islands.”
Jensen hopes the weather cooperates for Escape to the Islands, which got its start in 2009.
“It’s a super fun community-driven day to come out and enjoy local retailers and restaurants and enjoy a day of sun even if the sun isn’t out because inside the shops, you’ll feel like you’re in the tropics,” she said.
For more information, visit www.destinationwaconia.org.
Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]