HURRICANE — The Hurricane Valley Chamber of Commerce invited the community to meet local vendors and eat free food Saturday at their annual Business and Community Expo.
While the expo has been around for many years, it has been spotty in the past as far as being an annual event.
While former chamber president Greg Aldred said he had been to an expo in Hurricane seven years ago, it was just last year that they started reviving the expo in earnest.
They were able to grow the event this year, with 25 different businesses and organizations setting up booths at Hurricane High School.
While it wasn’t exactly the turnout they were hoping for, chamber president and Sonny Boy’s owner Lon Allen said they pulled in over 100 visitors.
“Those people that have come will have found a wealth of information,” he said. “From businesses that they didn’t even know necessarily existed right here in their own community.”
They hope to grow it more in the future, chamber president-elect Michelle Eberhard said, as they work more to bring in more community members to learn about the vendors that set up at the expo.
One move they made to bring people in this year is serving free sandwiches from Sonny Boy’s to those who attended.
They also had giveaways, where visitors who visited each booth and got it initialed by someone there could use that to enter a drawing for prizes such as gift baskets, Lin’s gift cards or free rounds of golf.
Vendors at their booths also had free items for visitors, such as Wendy’s Frosty key tags and balloon animals.
For vendors, the opportunity to talk to people who might not normally come into their businesses was what brought them out.
For Matt Hall, an agent with American National Property And Casualty Company, or American National, it was fun to just meet people in town and have fun while getting his name out there.
“It’s worth it,” he said. “We’re glad we’re here.”
While the chamber has always provided services for business in Hurricane, they’re hoping to expand to provide more for the community in general, Eberhard said.
They also want to grow by working more with other area chambers, Allen said, as well as hosting more events.
One big event they’ve got coming up that they hope to turn into an annual thing is an Exotic Food Festival.
The festival will serve exotic meats and foods from around the world, giving people the chance to try alligator, rattlesnake, ostrich and other foods unusual to most Utahns.
Even Hurricane Mayor John Bramall will participate, Aldred said, leading one of multiple teams that will come together to serve an exotic food.
They hope to make the festival, which is currently planned for September, into a huge event to draw tourists into Southern Utah.
“I anticipate that the Exotic Food Festival will become one of the premier festivals in the area,” he said, “if not in all of the state, so we’re excited about that.”
As the chamber continues to expand their programs, Eberhard said, they are glad to see the year-to-year growth in events like this.
“We just want to keep building it year after year and make it into a large community event,” she said. “It’s getting there.”
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