Business expo busier than last year

Duane Hicks

The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business & Community Expo saw a steady turnout at the Fort Frances Curling Club.
Sponsored by Tbaytel, it ran Friday from 4-9 p.m. and again Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., drawing a total of more than 700 people over the two days.
“It went very well–better than last year,” Chamber executive director Jennifer Soderholm told the Times on Monday afternoon.
“Friday was steady,” she noted. “Saturday had periods when people were coming in heavier than others but it was steady, as well.
“There was a couple of times when saw people piling in; just before 11 a.m. and then about 2 p.m. or so.
“The exhibitors that I spoke with all seemed to really enjoy themselves,” Soderholm added.
“Quite a number of them had a fantastic time and are looking to coming back again next year,” she remarked, noting one exhibitor already has reserved a booth for 2019.
Soderholm said the expo provided valuable exposure for some local businesses that many people did not known about, such as Couchiching-based Wasaw Enterprises, which was there to promote its food services.
“They were just ecstatic with the turnout, with the people that stopped by their booth,” Soderholm said.
“Quite a number of exhibitors were the same way,” she added. “They really enjoyed themselves–it was a good time.”
The expo saw a total of 39 exhibitors this year, representing a wide range of businesses both from Rainy River District as well as from Northern Ontario and Manitoba.
Some exhibitors were selling their wares right at the show while others provided information on finances, post-secondary education, real estate, becoming an OPP auxiliary member, and much more.
Most offered draws and free giveaways of pens, bags, keychains, and other items while others proved extremely popular with free samples of food.
For example, Wasaw Enterprises served up beef brisket sliders and desserts while the Copper River Inn gave away chicken wings.
Fort Frances Friends of Animals, meanwhile, invited individuals who have adopted dogs from them over the years to bring their pooches to the expo on Saturday.
Some friendly barking occasionally was heard above the hustle and bustle of the human traffic.
The trade show also coincided with two local fundraisers.
The La Verendrye Hospital Auxiliary was extremely successful with its annual “Rock’n for a Reason” fundraiser.
The event, which saw volunteers take shifts in rocking chairs over the two days, raised in excess of $10,000.
The Fort Frances Voyageurs Lions Club’s “Bail or Jail,” meanwhile, took place at the curling club on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in conjunction with the trade show.
It raised $4,175 for the club.
Lions Club volunteers also worked the door at the expo.
There also was the popular “Plinko” game and a children’s activity corner with face-painting and toys.
A buffet was served upstairs at the Little Amik Bar & Grill both days.
Soderholm said the Chamber continues to receive overwhelming support from volunteers and donors.
She also thanked the vendors, workers who assisted in setting up, other volunteers, and everyone else who showed up for the event.