Businesses, organizations, and charitable groups from Northwestern Ontario had a chance to network and educate people on what they do at the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Community Expo on Friday and Saturday.
More than 500 people came through the curling rink’s doors over the two days to see what was being offered by 35 different exhibitors.
“It was very well received-vendors were very pleased and I thought it was a huge success,” lauded expo committee chairperson Cathy Tysz.
She said the event was great for giving small businesses a platform at an affordable cost.
“A lot of the participants are small independent businesses who can’t really spend a lot of money advertising, so it’s a big two day event for them to really show people what they have to offer,” Tysz noted.
Overall, she said the vendors were very pleased with the event, and Chamber executive director Jennifer Soderholm was impressed by the vendors themselves.
“All of the vendors and exhibitors work so hard and it was evident in their booths and when they were talking with people,” Soderholm noted.
“Everybody that I talked to was just really happy to be there and was having a great time.
“They even were able to have a chance to network a bit with each other, so seeing that was wonderful,” she added.
The expo was also good for covering a variety of interests, Soderholm noted.
She said there was something for everyone who walked through the Curling Rink’s doors.
A handful of groups were fundraising at the event, such as the Voyageur Lions Club who raised $4,100 with its “Bail or Jail” that will help purchase a mammography machine at Riverside Health.
The Riverside Foundation was fundraising for the same purpose and volunteers sold Canada Day Cash Lottery tickets at the event.
A Relay for Life booth was also set up where they were to recruit individuals and accept pledges.
The 908 Rainy Lake Air Cadets were fundraising at the expo to help offset the costs associated with their D-Day trip to France that’s happening this summer.
As well, the Fort Frances First Responders were doing demonstrations for the public and raised funds with the goal of purchasing an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) as well as saving funds for a trip to the bi-annual EMS conference being held in Tampa, Fla. for 2020.
One of the key features of the event is the businesses’ ability to develop deeper relationships with the clients they serve, Soderholm noted.
“It gives the vendors and the general public the chance to meet on a more personal, one-on-one basis,” she explained.
“It’s in an environment where it’s not as rigid as it can be in the office.”
Soderholm said she and the expo committee already are looking forward to planning the event next year.