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Community expo set to go

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The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business & Community Expo is ready to hit the Memorial Sports Centre this Friday and Saturday.

Although the Chamber has hosted an annual exposition for 26 years, this will be its second geared towards local business.

In years past, the expo has focused on home improvement initiatives, with an evening social and entertainment throughout.

But Chamber manager Annely Armstrong-Thorstad said aside from a snack area and family-friendly happenings, this year’s expo will be “just the exhibits.”

She noted that despite having to scale back the activities offered at the event, having it on a smaller scale is good for local business.

“The last couple of years the expo has changed,” Armstrong-Thorstad remarked.

“We’ve trimmed that down so people come into the arenas to spend time talking to the businesses and getting to know the people that represent them.

“It’s really a chance to get to know your businesses . . . and it’s the only chance to get to know some of these people,” she reasoned.

The event hopes to draw attention to products or services people might be unaware of, as well as serve as a community networking opportunity.

There are 52 exhibitors set to appear at the event, although organizers are trying to make room for more looking to come aboard at the last minute.

Although Armstrong-Thorstad said the emphasis on networking is a positive thing for onlookers, she partially credits this change of pace to the long weekend date chosen for the event.

“We were really worried about the date,” she admitted. “So I got a hold of some of our businesses and asked them how they felt.”

“They said we should go ahead with it, so we did and it seems to be working out fine.”

Regardless of the date change, positive feedback from exhibitors and historically good attendance from the community have led Armstrong-Thorstad to believe the event will be just as successful as previous years.

She hopes it will top the 1,200 people who flooded into the arena last year.

“There are a lot of people that, if the weather is nice or not, are going to the cabin,” Armstrong-Thorstad conceded.

“But they can still stop in and look at the show before they go.”

The range of displays will encompass all lifestyles, ranging from boats and four-wheelers to fishing, crafts, event design, gardening, and cooking.

Armstrong-Thorstad said there is “something for every family member, all interests, and definitely all ages.”

She added prospective business owners from all over also are looking to attend the event to feel out the community and embrace the variety of resources under one roof.

“I am encouraging them to come to the expo so they can meet people, check out the community, and talk to other businesses,” Armstrong-Thorstad remarked.

“I love living here and I am excited to have them excited, too.”

The expo will run on Friday from 4-9 p.m. and again Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Admission is $3 at the door, with children 12 and under being free.

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