Spring Expo brings the community together
Gallery: 2016 Spring Expo [6 Images] Click any image to expand.
Organizers had high hopes for the eighth annual Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce Spring Expo on March 3, but this year's event exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. Nearly 1,300 people turned out for the event at the Townsend Fire Hall, and there were 97 vendors—both records for the Spring Expo.
“It’s the one event that brings the community and the business community together like nothing else can,” explained Roxane Ferguson, the executive director of the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce. “It has grown exponentially each year. This year's event was amazing and offered something for everyone. We're blessed to have such a tremendous response from both the residential and business communities for the Spring Expo.”
The addition of the Taste of Middletown component of the event has helped build its popularity, according to Ferguson. Visitors enjoyed food and beverages from a wide variety of local restaurants and businesses, including the Metro Pub, Crow Vineyards, Guzzy-Q Barbecue and Catering, Back Creek, the Bahama Breeze Island Grille, Pat's Pizza, Kreston's, Sherm's Catering, Half Baked Patisserie, and Uncle Mike's Ice Cream and Water Ice.
Tammy Nichols, one of the co-owners of Half Baked Patisserie was at the Spring Expo to remind people that “stressed” is just “desserts” spelled backwards. Long lines formed at the stand to sample the cupcakes and other sweet treats.
“It's a great networking event,” Nichols said. “There's something for everyone here.”
James McHatton, a culinary professional with the Bahama Breeze Island Grille, was serving up one of the restaurant's signature items, a sliced jerk chicken breast, fresh asparagus and mushrooms tossed in a Parmesan cream sauce with bow-tie pasta, for visitors.
“I’m very excited about this. It’s my first time here,” McHatton explained.
The culinary arts students from Middletown High School demonstrated their culinary skills at the event, handing out samples of their food and telling people that the culinary arts program does catering for events in the community.
Representatives from the Crow Vineyard and Winery brought with them a white, red, and rosé—something for every palate—as they offered tastings of the 2013 Barbera, the 2014 Barbera rosé, and 2013 Vidal Blanc.
Stephanie Price the Crow Vineyard and Winery's tasting room manager, said that she liked how organizers lined up a nice of vendors to participate.
“I found it very well-organized and it was laid out well,” Price explained.
Several of the vendors talked about the importance of participating in an event like this because the Middletown community is growing so fast.
“I think it's a great event for the community,” said Beth Oliphant, a marketing representative with Christiana Care Health System Imaging Services. “It draws a lot of people. The town is growing so quickly. This event is a good way to let people know where we are and what services we provide.”
Drew Kennedy, the owner of Spot On Marketing, which helps small businesses with their Social Media and marketing, offered a similar opinion. “Middletown has been growing, and the environment is definitely good for the business community,” he said. Kennedy added that just the opportunity to network with the other vendors was worth the participation in the event.
There were seven networking groups who took part in the Spring Expo, too. These groups included referral networking groups like C & D Marketing and Middletown Business Associates; networking groups like The Women's Network, Middletown Women's Mastermind, and Bear Glasgow Association; the Middletown Business Incubator, which is a collaborative workspace incubator group; and the the Ambassadors Group, which is a network of volunteers who help support the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce's initiatives and events.
The 97 vendors who took part in the Spring Expo included 21 new vendors, just one illustration of the event's growing popularity.
Victoria Carter of Bayada Pediatrics was one of those attending the event for the first time. She was telling attendees about the nursing and therapy services that Bayada Pediatrics provides to children.
“This is our first year here and it's great,” Carter said. “There are so many vendors here. We'll be back next year.”
Nicole Monroe-Cole, the chairwoman of the Spring Expo, said that the event is a good way to link the community with businesses in the area.
“The eighth annual Spring Expo was a huge success with 1,253 attendees who were able to connect with our our vendors and networking groups to learn about all the great things happening in the MOT area,” she said. “I know everyone is excited to see what the ninth annual expo will bring to our community.”
Ferguson said that the enormous success of the Spring Expo says something about the overall strength of the community.
“The MOT area truly embodies what community spirit is all about, and the event exemplifies that immensely,” Ferguson said. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly supportive, and I'm looking forward to working with the committee on next year's event.”