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The 35th Annual Whitecourt and District Chamber of Commerce Trade Fair was held from May 12 to 14 at the Scott Safety Centre and the Whitecourt Curling Rink with 165 booths. “The first night we had about 820 people and on Saturday we had close to 2000,” said Chamber President Rand Richards which is double the average number of visitors. Within the first hour of the final day (Sunday) there were already over 400 people through the doors.
Sunday started off with a free breakfast for Mother’s Day sponsored by Catering by Mama Gray’s Kitchen which included pancakes, sausages, French toast, and fresh fruit. The Epp family (pictured) dined together and gave the meal two thumbs up all around saying it really hit the spot.
From RC car demonstrations and interactive booths to play around and have fun with to bouncy castles, face painting, and tons of door prizes to enter in for a chance to win, it was surely a must-visit event. Though the outdoor area was a bit wet for the first two days thanks to the rainy weather, it didn’t slow the traffic of visitors; in fact, it seemed to bolster the attendance numbers.
One of the many interesting booths was from the Government of Alberta Environment and Parks which showcased different animals’ pelts and provided plenty of information. “We’re talking with people about being bear and cougar-smart and we also have the forestry and fire guys here talking about being fire smart. We are trying to wild-smart and fire-smart Whitecourt and give people a heads-up on that. We have a lot of cougars and bears in this area so we’re trying to give information on removing attractants like crabapple trees and garbage. And, for cougar smart, it’s about removing vegetation along trails,” explained Fauve Blanchard, Wildlife Biologist with the Government of Alberta.
Make My Fun Hobby Store won the title of Best Overall Booth with its elaborate set-up that basically brought the store to the trade fair. The store also had an indoor track set up and live music from Jeff Cardinal. The Best Spirit Award was given to Pet Experts for having live animals to cuddle with including nine-year-old Finnigan, a Labradoodle, who was very friendly and loved the attention from passing visitors.
There are always new vendors each year and different demonstrations to watch but on top of that, there was an extra addition to the show. The Weekend in Whitecourt Travel & Recreation Show was added to showcase the diverse amount of tourism opportunities for the area. “It was open to all businesses that cater to tourism in our community,” explained Rand. Fifty businesses took part in the event which was held in conjunction with the Trade Fair.
Amanda St. Pierre chaired the event and spoke of long-time vendor RE/MAX (Brian Ames), who has been part of every single fair for all 35 years. “It’s an example of the dedication of this community in supporting events like this, like the trade show which is one of the main events the Chamber puts on and really just highlights the business community.”
Any business owners interested in joining the Chamber of Commerce are invited to call 780-778-5363.