Trade show touted as a success

Going strong for 18 years in Fort Frances, the Chamber of Commerce’s annual home and leisure continues to be a successful event.
And this past Friday and Saturday at the Memorial Sports Centre was no exception as both exhibitors and organizers alike agreed it was a hit once again.
Connie Cuthbertson, owner of Northwoods Gallery & Gifts and Gourmet Outfitters, said Saturday that while she used to do trade shows when she was in the framing business in the late 1980s, this was her first since she opened Northwoods in 1998.
“This trade show is good. You get a different crowd come through than you might normally get at the stores,” noted Cuthbertson, adding she especially wanted to showcase Gourmet Outfitters and let people know not only what it offers (cookware, utensils, spices, and much more) but that it carries different merchandise than Northwoods.
She added the trade show was “worthwhile” for vendors to participate in, and as a local businessperson felt it was a valuable tradition.
“For them to have it year after year, that really shows it’s going strong. People are very supportive of it,” remarked Cuthbertson, adding she’s been to many trade shows in the past and, by comparison, this one was professionally done.
“I think it was a good show. We had a good turnout. It was as good as last year or better,” said Jim Badiuk, who held Badiuk Equipment’s annual boat show in conjunction with the trade show for a third year.
“Because we’re inside, we were out of the weather and everything stayed clean and dry,” he noted. People could enjoy it without worrying about the weather.
“I think the indoor way is the only way to do it,” he added. “We had the heat on, we had Robin’s coffee and doughnuts. It was great in there.”
Badiuk Equipment sells lawn and garden equipment, motorcycles, ATVs, and boats ands motors, and Badiuk said all of those sold well at the show last Friday and Saturday.
Badiuk, who used to hold a spring boat show out at Badiuk Equipment for years, said there’s definitely advantages to having it at the ’52 Canadians Arena.
“It’s a lot of work, it takes a lot of time and a lot of planning,” he acknowledged. “But it’s worth it.
“The other arena [Ice for Kids] is done up nice, and as long as they keep getting good exhibitors there, people have a lot of good reasons to come down,” he remarked.
James Bujold of Dynamic Technologies Inc., a first-timer at the local trade show, said he didn’t come with any expectations.
“I really didn’t come here to sell. I came for the exposure,” said the former Fort Frances resident, adding he felt like it was worthwhile to be at the home and leisure show.
But he added he’d like to see more contractors at the show so he could make more contacts.
The International Falls-based Dynamic Technologies Inc. specializes in wiring homes for phone, Internet, and home entertainment technology.
Kelly Mess, head technician for the Edmonton-based Right Step Orthotics, has been coming to the home and leisure show here for the past six years, and was on his way through the region hitting various other trade shows along the way.
“It’s definitely worthwhile,” said Mess, who was very busy Saturday morning custom-making fitted orthotics.
He noted people in the area have come to know his work, and actually wait for him to come through each year to call upon his orthotic services.
Another exhibitor was the Fort Frances Power Corp., which was set up to continue its mandated promotion of energy conservation.
“I know from our perspective . . . we were very satisfied with how things went,” FFPC CEO and president Jim Kibiuk said Monday afternoon.
“We distributed approximately 1,200 compact fluorescent light bulbs at the show, along with a lot of good literature on energy conservation,” he added.
“As far as our efforts to create awareness and get the word out about energy conservation, it was successful for us for sure. It served its purpose quite well.
“We felt the role of the [FFPC] is to create that awareness and get information out to people, and this home and leisure show was the perfect opportunity for us to continue to do that—keep that awareness going and get out information,” Kibiuk continued.
“Good, simple conservation tips people can utilize—what we’re promoting as no cost, or low-cost, simple solutions. It worked really well,” he enthused.
Organizers agreed the show was a success.
“I feel it was pretty successful,” Chamber president Gary Rogozinski said Monday morning.
“We had similar numbers for turnout as last year—anywhere from 3,500 to 4,000—but we haven’t got everything totalled yet,” he noted. “It’s quite a chore to get everything organized after the show.”
Rogozinski said he got positive feedback from exhibitors over the two days.
“They said they had very good traffic going through their booths, and they had lots of discussions with people.
“And people I talked to going through the trade show thought it was laid out really well, and that it was positive, worthwhile event,” added Rogozinski. “So overall, it was a good story.”
Rogozinski also felt the trade show traffic was helped out by other local events, like Pinewood Sports & Marine’s boat show and the Northern Do-it center’s home show, which got people out and about.
“There weren’t any major problems,” said Chamber manager Dawn Booth, the primary organizer behind the trade show.
“Everything went really well. We received a lot of positive comments from the exhibitors and the public,” she added. “There was a nice mix of exhibitors this year, which makes it interesting.
“People can come out and check out different things year after year.”
The top three best-decorated booths were Northwoods Gallery & Gifts (first), Fort Frances Aquanauts (second), and Winnipeg-based Creative Candlelight (third).
The trade show also featured demonstrations over the two days, ranging from boxing to potting plants to learning about Registered Education Savings Plans.
As well, there was a kids’ corner, the FFHS “chem-free” grad cake roulette, food, free samples, pleasure craft operators’ licence testing, mini-makeovers, and plenty of raffles.
Instead of “passports” that trade show-goers got stamped by exhibitors to enter in a draw for prizes in past years, they were asked to fill out comment cards and enter in a draw to win a weekend stay at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg.
The winner was Marilou Allen of Devlin.
Although this year also didn’t see the return of the popular “Hole-in-One” putting contest, it did have “Rainy Lake Horseshoes”—a similar game of skill in which players paid $5 to toss six washers at a board with holes in it.
They then put their name into a draw for each one they got in a hole.
Then, 150 names were drawn and each of those people got a chance to enter a five-digit code into a safe. If they cracked the code, they got a choice of prizes.
The three prizes were an outdoor recreation package (Badiuk Equipment), a $50,000 home theatre system from Sight & Sound, and a $50,000 customized investment portfolio (IQON Financial).
As it turned out, no one cracked the code.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Booth. “We were really hoping to give the big prizes away this year and build the excitement for following years.
“I think we’re going to have something a little bit different for next year,” she admitted.
But there were consolation prizes., including a print donated by Art By Cher (won by Brian Kahler), a fire pit from Canadian Tire (won by Jim Jackson), and two Muskoka chairs from Canadian Tire (won by James Bujold).
This game also was open to children, who were eligible for a different prize without having to enter a five-digit code.
Chase Jackson won this draw, which was for the “Rainy Lake Horseshoes” game itself.