Business expo set for this weekend

Sam Odrowski

Businesses and entrepreneurs from across the district and surrounding area will be taking over the Fort Frances Curling Rink this Friday and Saturday for the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Community Expo.
Starting on Friday from 4-9 p.m. and running through Saturday 27 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. around 40 different exhibitors will set up shop to display their wares or services.
Admission to the event is $3 per person and children 12 and under can enter for free.
“The event is totally for the business community,” noted Jennifer Soderholm, Chamber of Commerce executive director.
“It’s a great chance for the businesses themselves to showcase their services or products . . . meet their current clients or potential clients and show what they can do for them.
“It’s also just a really good chance for the business community to network with other businesses,” Soderholm added. “They’re reaching out to each other, getting to know each other, and they’re building those bonds.”
She said the Chamber of Commerce tries to make sure there’s something for everyone during the event, so it’s enjoyable for all who come out.
“We have the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre that’s going to be there this year. They’re having a big area for a lot of different activities for the kids to enjoy,” Soderholm noted.
As well, there will be a bouncey castle for kids to play on across the street from the Curling Rink.
In addition to having exhibitors who sell products or services, organizations like the Northern Career Development Service and Independence Northwest will be advertising different jobs as well.
A number of local realtors are also slated to be at the event for those looking to sell or purchase some property in the area.
Most exhibitors who participate are local but there are a number of businesses travelling from as far as Thunder Bay to take part in the event.
“Tbaytel is coming down, they are our major event sponsor,” Soderholm said.
“They will have a great big booth inside, they usually showcase a lot of their different services and a lot of their new products that are coming out.
“It’s a really good chance for people in the community to see what kind of new services and products are now coming available for our area as well,” Soderholm added.
New to this year’s expo is a side stage setup in the corner of the Curling Rink where exhibitors can sign up and show off extra products or services that require a larger space.
“If the vendors have something special they want to showcase or some kind of demonstrations they want to do, they’ll be able to utilize that stage area . . . where it’s larger so more people can see it,” Soderholm explained.
During times where vendors aren’t signed up to display their products on the stage, the empty spots will be filled with local artists who will play light music for people to listen to as they shop.
The event will also feature different service groups like the Lions Club and Kiwanis Club who will be fundraising for various charitable initiatives.
Soderholm is hoping for a strong turnout this year and said the Chamber tried their best to make sure the dates of this year expo don’t overlap with any major community events.
“We’ve had conflicts in the past with running it at the same time as the Emo Spring Fever Days so we’ve worked hard to make sure we’re not in competition with groups like that,” she explained.
Soderholm encourages everybody in the area to swing by the event and support their local business community.
“It’s a great time, there’s a lot to see, and there’s a lot to do,” she enthused. “Bring out your whole family–everybody will enjoy it.”