More than 1,000 turn out for 2018 Local Business Expo

At Saturday's 2018 Local Business Expo, veteran entrepreneurs Owen Shortt (Winchester Travel, also Past President of the North Dundas Chamber of Commerce), Birket Foster (MB Foster Associates founder and Storm Internet co-owner) and Bob Weagant (retired Weagant Farm Supplies co-owner). Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — Just over 1,000 people turned out to Saturday’s Local Business Expo at the Joel Steele Community Centre.

Visitor numbers were up by about 200 over last year’s inaugural event put on by the North Dundas Chamber of Commerce and the Township of North Dundas. Total participating exhibitors climbed this year as well, hitting just shy of 100 booths on both levels of the venue.

Many observed that the soggy weather may have helped boost interest in attending the show that day.

“It was really busy,” observed Miranda Carruthers at her Bridals display as the event began to wind down that afternoon.

Devin Nurse of Thundering Sound Entertainment in Chesterville said this year’s modified layout seemed to improve flow past his booth. “We got a couple of jobs out of this show, which is really good,” he said.

“It’s been solid,” said Shawn Brownlee of The Town Vintner, noting strong sales of balsamic vinegar from his table on the main floor. “We’ve been selling through a lot of this stuff.”

“It’s been a great show. I’ve probably put 400 pamphlets into people’s hands,” said Kelly Windle of The Planted Arrow Flowers & Gifts.

“I’ve been meeting a lot of people from out of town,” added Windle. “The Ottawa area has been drawn in. There’s been at least two dozen people I’ve talked to from the Ottawa area.”

“It’s a nice group of businesses, too. There’s a little bit of everything, which is nice.”

The show again featured a stage with slate of entertainment and informative sessions organized by Lisa Williams of Main Street Clothing Company.

Her own firm put on well-received fashion shows. Passersby also enjoyed the demonstrations of using chalk-based paint by Winchester BMR, performances by a couple of local dance troupes and concussion information sessions by Summers Physiotherapy.

Storm Internet, provider of free high-speed wifi for the show’s vendors, reported a total of 18.9 Gb of data transferred over the network that day — split almost evenly between the exhibitors upstairs (8.9 Gb) and downstairs (10 Gb). Between 88 and 143 users connected hourly to the temporary system, consuming only four percent of potential capacity. Storm’s Peter Vanderlind said he used a newer, easier-to-deploy technology this year, setting up in less than an hour compared with the half day it took in 2017.

The Chamber of Commerce of executive expects to meet soon to discuss feedback and next steps for a follow-up Expo — including the timing of the next one.

The first Expo was launched last year under the leadership of Chamber President Rachel Potvin. Presiding over the 2018 edition was her last act as president as she prepares to move to the United States for her new career opportunity.

Below, Mayor Eric Duncan livestreams at the event.

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