By Richard Rourk
The Unicoi Chamber of Commerce had a busy 2021 and continues to plan events for 2022 in an attempt to return to regain some normalcy during a pandemic.
Unicoi County Executive Director Amanda Delp discussed highlights for the Chamber from last year and goals for 2022 with The Erwin Record.
“Last year was a very good year for the Chamber despite the challenges we had with COVID-19,” Delp said. “We are very excited to see what 2022 brings.”
Delp acknowledged that 2021 began with a lot of uncertainty.
“We started off slow with an abbreviated schedule of events,” Delp said. “Instead of complete cancellations, we were able to tweak our events a little bit.”
Last February the Chamber’s quarterly luncheon was altered.
“It was still recommended that we not meet in groups at that time so we had to change it up,” Delp said. “We sent out packets of information that included what we would’ve been able to discuss at the quarterly event and we also provided a dessert voucher for Whisk Bakery.”
As 2021 rolled on, the Chamber was able to move forward with several of its larger events.
“We were able to have our golf tournament and our 5k run,” Delp said. “Runners, we’re excited to be back out. We celebrated National Tourism Week and Small Business Month and of course, we were able to bring back the Apple Festival.”
Although the Apple Festival didn’t break previous attendance records, vendors had solid sales for the annual event.
“We were fortunate to have the Apple Festival last year and just had a wonderful event,” Delp said. “We did incorporate safety protocols to keep everyone safe. Numbers were down just a little bit last year. We had roughly 80,000 in attendance for the Apple Festival but vendors told us they had a great year. Many vendors sold out early. The Apple Festival just had a special vibe this year, I think COVID-19 really made us appreciate things we missed.”
Delp wants to carry that same vibe into 2022.
“We had a record-breaking number of entrants in our Christmas Parade and looking forward to 2022 we have an exciting year coming up,” Delp said.
All Chamber-sponsored events are back on track in the manner they were pre-pandemic.
“This is subject to change,” she cautioned, “but we are planning ahead for any outcome.”