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Plans in works for spring home show

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While winter is far from over, the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce already is starting to think about springtime—and more specifically its 20th-annual home and leisure show.

Chamber officer manager Dawn Booth said she’s in the process of sending out exhibitor packages to about 300 businesses in Northwestern Ontario, and it’s not too early to start registering.

“We had just over 60 exhibitors last year,” she noted. “This year, we’re hoping for 70, which would fill the show floor and there would be no extra space at all.”

Booth said prospective exhibitors are highly encouraged to heed feedback from comment cards turned in by the public last year.

“They want more food booths, more hands-on activities, more home and garden things,” she remarked. “If there’s exhibitors out there that fit into those things, people want to see them.”

Booth said one major change to the show this year is the date. Instead of being the last weekend in April, it will be run Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3 at the Memorial Sports Centre.

As well, the hours it will be open will be shortened to 4-9 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday (in past years, it had been opened from noon-9 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday).

“The [Friday] afternoon is usually pretty quiet and we had a lot of exhibitors say ‘Why don’t we wait and open later in the afternoon?’” Booth recalled, adding the shortened days would give out-of-town exhibitors more time to travel and set up, as well as mean a higher concentration of people at any given time and an overall busier trade show.

Booth said the 2008 home and leisure show won’t have a specific theme because that might discourage some exhibitors from participating. But it does have a tagline, “Improve Your Home, Enhance Your Life,” which describes what the show’s all about.

“This is also our 20th-annual, so we are looking at doing something pretty big and major,” enthused Booth. “We haven’t quite figured it out yet, but we’ve got a few different ideas we’re looking into.

“It may be something as simple as bringing back the ‘Crack the Safe’ game or some big door prizes with admission, but we’re always trying to add new things to keep it fresh and exciting.”

Besides a wide variety of exhibitors, the show also will likely have a children’s area, featuring face-painting, toys, games, and colouring, as well as the ever-popular “chem-free” grad cake roulette, food for sale, samples, draws, contests, a penny auction, and much more.

There will be an admission fee of $3 but like last year, everyone who pays will be entered into a draw for a chance to win $1,000 (or possibly even more due to it being the show’s 20th anniversary).

Anyone looking for more information on the show, or has any ideas as to what should be included, is urged to contact the Chamber office at 274-5773.

While attendance was down slightly from 2006, last year’s home and leisure show saw more than 3,000 people come through the doors.

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