The Washington Chamber of Commerce will host Good Neighbor Days at the end of May instead of the Cherry Festival.

The official start of the summer season in Washington for 2014 will be a time to celebrate its neighbors instead of cherries. 

The Washington Chamber of Commerce will host Good Neighbor Days at the end of May instead of the Cherry Festival. the chamber made the announcement at its annual banquet Thursday at Five Points Washington.

Chamber Executive Director Chevie Ruder said the Nov. 17 tornado was a reminder of what’s important to Washington.

“We don’t have cherries and cherry trees, but what we do have is great neighbors,” Ruder said. 

Good Neighbor Days dusts off the original name of the festival that starts the official summer season in Washington. 

Good Neighbor Days goes back at least to the mid-1980s Ruder said. 

The name was changed when community organizers turned the annual event over to the Chamber to run. 

“At the time, the chamber was looking to create a food-oriented festival that could be as good as Elmwood’s Strawberry Days and Morton’s Pumpkin Fest,” Ruder said. 

The festival typically included a tent with nearly any kind of cherry food imaginable for sale. And of course there was the food from cherry pies, cherry barbecue and cherry tacos.

Ruder said the cherry theme never really became its signature. 

“A food-oriented festival works in Morton because it really is the pumpkin capital of the world,” Ruder said. “Washington is not the cherry capital.”

Although, Ruder added that cherry 

tacos may be one of the few cherry food items to remain at the summer event. 

“Those are really good and people do seem to like them,” she added.

A feature of Good Neighbor Days that continued into the Cherry Festival was the awarding of the annual Good Neighbor Award. The award had been handed out continuously since 1985.

“After the tornado we had people inside and outside of the city and other communities from near and far, reaching out to help us,” Ruder said. “That showed us how many truly great neighbors we really have and we want to get back to a festival that celebrates our neighbors.”