Organizers hope speech will boost donation to education programs
By TIM HEARDEN
REDDING, Calif. -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be the kickoff speaker at the 61st annual Sierra Cascade Logging Conference in February.
Tickets to see Palin, the 2004 GOP vice presidential candidate, went on sale this week.
Conference spokeswoman Nadine Bailey said it hasn't yet been determined what topics Palin will cover in her Feb. 8 speech, which will usher in the conference held Feb. 11-13.
But Palin's appearance will provide a boost for a conference that raises money for education programs related to the timber industry, Bailey said.
"We're just excited," she said. "This is a great opportunity for us."
The three-day conference is held in conjunction with the Forest Products and Construction Equipment Exposition and is attended by thousands of timber-industry workers and spectators each year. Among the 2009 presenters was fire expert James Agee, a professor emeritus at the University of Washington.
For the first time the festival -- which features logging sports exhibitions, truck driving competitions and other attractions -- will be held entirely at the Redding Convention Center. Most events in past years have been held at the Shasta District Fairgrounds in nearby Anderson, but the convention center offers more covered space, Bailey said.
Scheduling issues forced the conference to feature Palin three days before the rest of the conference, Bailey said. Palin's speech will come as she is embarking on a national tour to promote her book, "Going Rogue: An American Life," which came out this week.
Bailey said she was referred to Palin's schedulers through an acquaintance in her volunteer work for Court-Appointed Special Advocates, which matches volunteers with at-risk foster children.
"I'm am hoping that if we can do well (financially), Sierra Cascade can make a donation to CASA," Bailey said.
The speech will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Redding Convention Center, 700 Auditorium Drive.
Tickets are $74 and $54 and can be purchased at www.reddingconventioncenter.com.