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Trade show still popular attraction


Sporting more than 60 exhibitors, demonstrations, and chances to win prizes, the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce drew a large crowd to its annual home and leisure show on Friday and Saturday at the Memorial Sports Centre.

“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 added. “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,” he noted.

“And people I talked to going through the trade show thought it was laid out really well, and that it was positive, worthwhile event,” Rogozinski continued. “So overall, it was a good story.”

He also felt the trade show traffic was helped out by other events, like Pinewood Sports and 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. Everything went really well,” echoed Chamber manager Dawn Booth, the primary organizer behind the trade show.

“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 year after year and check out different things.”

This year once again featured a wide variety of exhibitors, ranging from local businesses to the groups like the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, “Community Chest,” and Riverside Foundation for Health Care.

The top three best decorated booths were Northwoods Gallery and Gifts (first), Fort Frances Aquanauts (second), and Winnipeg-based Creative Candlelight (third).

The annual show also featured demonstrations over the two days, ranging from boxing to potting plants to learning about Registered Education Savings Plans.

There also 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.

Unlike the past few years, instead of “passports” that trade show-goers got stamped by exhibitors and enter in a draw for prizes, they were asked to fill out comment cards and enter in a draw to win a weekend stay at the Victoria Inn in Winnipeg.

As of this morning, this draw had not yet been made.

And although this year didn’t see the return of the popular “Hole-in-One” putting contest, it did have “Rainy Lake Horseshoes”—a similar game of skill where players paid $5, got to toss six washers at a board with holes in it, and 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 the 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).

No one successfully 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 conceded.

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.

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