The Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee, Walla Walla, Wash., plans to hold its annual sweet onion festival July 16-17 in Walla Walla, said Kathy Fry-Trommald, the committee’s executive director of marketing.

The festival has grown to the extent where it’s now known far beyond Washington, Fry-Trommald said.

“It’s become a fantastic promotion for our industry,” she said. “It’s something that’s known nationwide.”

Nationwide and beyond, in fact, Fry-Trommald said. Canadian presence at the festival is increasing.

“We get quite a few calls from up north,” she said.

The committee expects about 10,000 visitors to the festival this year, Fry-Trommald said.

The free event will feature a Saturday night street dance and music throughout the festival, she said.

The festival used to feature several area chefs cooking up dishes with Walla Walla sweets, Fry-Trommald said.

But many found they couldn’t take the time required away from their restaurants to cook on the site of the festival, in downtown Walla Walla.

As a result, the committee decided to launch its Sweet Skip self-guided walking tour of the Walla Walla restaurant district, Fry-Trommald said.

On the tour, festival-goers visit 13 restaurants, where they sample dishes made with Walla Walla onions. That allows local chefs to participate in the festival without taking them out of their restaurants, Fry-Trommald said.

The festival also has an event that features local amateur chefs, she said. People submit their favorite salad recipes that use Walla Wallas as an ingredient.

The top four will be served at the festival, and the winner will receive $50, Fry-Trommald said. This will be the second year for the salad contest.

For more information about the festival, visit