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Carhart takes over as interim Ripon chamber exec director
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Sam Carhart welcomes a visitor to the Ripon Chamber of Commerce office from her desk. Carhart has been named interim director after the mid-December retirement of Dorothy Booth. - photo by GLENN KAHL

RIPON — Sam Carhart – a three year veteran of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce – has been appointed interim director of the business support group after the sudden retirement of Dorothy Booth in mid-December.

“Good morning, Ripon Chamber of Commerce – this is Sam,” is what you will hear from the other end of the line when calling 599-7519.   Before taking on a part time position with the chamber, she worked in dental offices in Manteca and Modesto.  For 13 years she worked in Modesto making retainers for an orthodontist until he sold his practice.

She is a native of Ripon having attended Ripona and Ripon Elementary schools as well as Ripon High School.  The Ripon plays the flute in grade school and the saxophone in the high school jazz band.

Carhart takes the reins at a time when the chamber is gearing up for the annual Ripon Almond Festival. The chamber office becomes a beehive of activity preparing for the queen contest, coronation, carnival and the parade set for Feb. 25 for its 50th year.

Chamber President Marge Imfeld said Monday that the board of directors felt they needed to get the Almond Blossom Festival behind them before doing anything permanent regrding a replacement for Booth who she said left partially because of health concerns.

“Dorothy left us with a good staff – I think we are in great shape,” she said. 

Imfeld recently retired from her position with ReMax Real Estate in Ripon. She is charged with the accounting duties for the chamber, in addition to her presidency.  She has another six months to go and leads the monthly board meetings held on the second Tuesday at noon.  There are 12 members on the board of directors.

On staff currently in addition to Carhart as director is Bonnie Nutt who works on a part time basis and Grace Mulder as a volunteer.  Lauren Bitters has been in charge of the parade activities for the past three years.  Carhart said the chamber is in the process of signing up reservations for the line-of-march and for the vendors that will be involved in the four day carnival at Mistlin Sports Park on River Road.

Upcoming chamber Almond Blossom Festival events

The Almond Blossom Kick Off Dinner is set for Thursday, Jan. 12, and will be held at Spring Creek Country Club at 7 p.m.  The event is completely sold out.

The chamber coffee is being held this Friday at Bartel’s State Farm Insurance at 201 South Stockton Avenue at 7:45 a.m. 

On Thursday, Feb. 9, the Soroptimist Almond Blossom Fashion Show will take to the stage at the Ripon High School multi-purpose room at 7 p.m.

The festival carnival discount tickets become available at the chamber of commerce office in the 900 block of West Main Street starting Feb. 20 at a cost of $15 per book.

When the carnival opens on Thursday, Feb. 23, the chamber is offering a $1 night.  And, the 50th Annual Almond Blossom Queen Coronation will follow the Lions Club’s annual spaghetti dinner at the Ripon Community Center.  The crowning is set for 7 p.m.

First thing Saturday morning the Shadow Chase Running Club is overseeing a one mile and an 8K run that will leave from the Mavis Stouffer Park on Manley Drive on the east side of the city.  Runners are set to take to a street course at 8:30 a.m.

The parade and the festival act as a homecoming for families whose grown children have moved away to college and to jobs out of the area.  The parade is set later this year at 1 p.m. to allow family members driving from out of town to attend.  In addition to the carnival that follows, Ripon citizens normally host countless home barbecues for their guests.

The carnival hours are from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday the weekend of Feb. 24-26.