Chamber hits the ground running as it resumes full programming

It’s been a productive start to 2023 at the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce.

Since becoming the new director in January, Carey Eskridge has revamped the weekly newsletter, redesigned the website, created a member portal, reinstated the guide and map and is gearing up for an epic July 4 celebration.

“The theme for this year is ‘Orcas Come Together.’ As we emerge from the pandemic, we want to celebrate the resilience of our island community. We are stronger together and these last few difficult years prove it,” he said.

After the parade, there will be a chamber-sponsored festival on the Village Green with a chili cookoff, pie contest, cake walk, food and market vendors and family games. The evening will kick off with live music from Baker and West and the Bad Dads followed by a special appearance from the Ian Moore Band. The holiday weekend will also include the Orcas Fire and Rescue pancake breakfast, Lions’ Club Salmon BBQ, live music from Orcas Center in the Green, a 5K run sponsored by the Exchange and more.

The chamber is currently fundraising to bring back the fireworks display, which hasn’t been presented since 2019. The price tag is substantial— the cost of a barge in East Sound and a 30-minute show is around $30,000. To contribute, visit

“It is donation-dependent right now,” Eskridge explained. “The campaign is called ‘$5 for the 4th.’ If everyone gives $5 we could have the party of the century.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Orcas Chamber board decided to not invoice members for annual dues. After three years of this policy, Eskridge and board president Pete Moe decided it was time to resume normal operations, but chose to decrease the overall cost to island business owners.

Previously, membership was a base price of $150 for those with 1-5 employees and it was an additional $75 for inclusion in the online directory and another $150 to be in the map and guide. Now, it’s a flat rate of $250 to receive all of the perks.

Eskridge and office manager Leah Johnson have been “working diligently” to secure its member roster for both the online directory and the 2023-24 map and guide, which is slated to be on the streets by July 4. Members are asked to renew their information no later than June 9 at

“The chamber is connected to every demographic on Orcas Island, providing a unique opportunity to build community by supporting the businesses, entrepreneurs, artists and artisans, tradespeople, service providers, and non-profits and community organizations among its members. And that is what we intend to do,” Eskridge said. “That requires the full support of our members. With that support, we can strengthen local commerce and attract and develop future businesses while fostering community engagement.”