Gesa title sponsor of Balloon Stampede

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Gesa Credit Union will be helping the 36th annual Walla Walla Balloon Stampede with takeoff this year.

The Richland-based credit union, which has two branches in Walla Walla, celebrated its position Wednesday as title sponsor for the local hot air balloon festival.

Though its sponsorship had been previously announced during the Walla Walla Business Expo in March, the credit union held a press conference Wednesday to celebrate its involvement in the three-day festival.

"Gesa Credit Union is involved because, like the Balloon Stampede, we also have deep roots in this community and value positive family experiences," said Gesa President and CEO Christina Brown, in a prepared statement.

The sponsorship means a name change -- or at least modification -- for the event, which is officially known as the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede Presented by Gesa Credit Union.

An initial launch for the festivities -- themed this year as "Lighting up the Skies" -- took place this morning. The festival runs through Sunday.

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Walla Walla's Harvest Foods is cooking up a tasty Mother's Day event Friday.

The Southgate grocery store, 905 S. Second Ave., invites children to its "Cookie for Mom!" event running 3-6 p.m.

The first roughly 100 children under 12 years old and accompanied by an adult can decorate a treat for their moms.

The Bakery Department will supply the cookies, frosting and sprinkles while the "children can supply the love," the announcement said.

Harvest Foods also encourages adults to bring their cameras for the event.

For more details, call 525-7900.

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The company that owns Walla Walla's Super 8 Motel will be helping the Special Olympics with liftoff this summer.

Rick Standard, certified hotel administrator and general manager of the Walla Walla Super 8 on Wilbur Avenue, announced that the management firm that oversees his hotel will donate the use of its aircraft for the nationwide Special Olympics airlift.

The Peninsula Group Inc. will share its Citation jet July 17 and 24 to transport Special Olympians and their coaches to and from the weeklong event in Lincoln, Neb.

Tumwater, Wash.,-based Peninsula Group operates a number of Super 8 Motels in Alaska, Washington and Oregon.

In a prepared statement, Standard said the use of the aircraft allows the organizers, coaches and athletes to focus on the events rather than concerns about transportation.

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Artist Earnest Thomas will make an appearance at Le Chateau Winery on Friday.

His pieces -- described as abstract mixed media with a sculptural and industrial flair -- are featured in the winery's tasting room at 175 E. Aeronca Ave. at the Walla Walla Regional Airport Industrial Park.

Visitors are invited to enjoy a glass of wine and meet the artist from 5-7 p.m. Friday.

For more information, call 956-9311 or visit www.lechateauwinery.com .

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Bring your appetite this weekend if you plan to head to the SeedHouse Saloon.

The Touchet eatery owned by Nicki Blanchard will host a breakfast and lunch buffet Saturday and Sunday.

The buffet is planned for this weekend only. Breakfast runs 7-11 a.m.; lunch is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The SeedHouse Saloon is at 24 Touchet Gardena Road.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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