Cindy Kippes came to the 12th Annual Health and Business Expo on Saturday morning, despite very brisk winter-like temperatures and some snow on the ground.
A long-time resident of McDonald County, Kippes felt compelled to attend the expo to make sure she isn't "missing anything."
Is she? She pointed to her chicken slider, with a big bite taken out of it. Guacamole and some bacon jam accompanied her small sandwich.
"If this is cafeteria food now ...." she said, smiling. "You have to get some of this bacon jam."
OPPA, which operates the McDonald County School District's cafeterias, offered free samples at the event.
Admission was free to the expo, which was sponsored by the McDonald County Chamber of Commerce. The chicken sliders were a huge hit, along with a parfait bar, which allowed expo-goers to make their own yogurt parfait with different fruit and granola.
For Nathan Washam, the expo is a slam-dunk for attracting new customers. His business, Mac-Co Heating and Cooling, got its start about a year and a half ago. Washam participated in the expo last year and got several leads. This year, he met new folks and saw customers he worked with last year.
The expo is an opportunity to meet potential customers and put a face with a name. Several people recognized Washam but initially didn't know he was the owner of the company.
"They see we're here to help them," he said.
Washam's business was one of several to offer a giveaway. A Milwaukee 18-volt hammer drill and impact set attracted several people who registered for the prize.
Washam attributes his decision to launch his own business to God. Working on the road and helping customers with heating and air issues, he got tired of all the travel. He and his wife prayed about it for several months and felt led to open their own business. "We've been incredibly blessed for this first year," he said.
At 11 a.m., the lobby and the gym at the McDonald County High School were full of potential customers learning more about local businesses, registering for door prizes, enjoying entertainment and taking advantage of low-cost health screenings.
In the gym, Ian Ruby took the chance to show off his dance skills in a small sea of girl dancers. The troupe danced to the theme from "Ghost Busters," while Ruby entertained with numerous cartwheels throughout and joined in the dance.
Kara Sandlin, the owner of Kara's Kicks of Anderson, said the group was one of eight to perform that morning. Ian performed with an all-boy group last year, Sandlin said, but this year, he was the only boy. All the others became busy with baseball and other activities.
Sandlin asked Ian if he would be willing to dance with an all-girl class, which includes his sister, Eliza. He agreed.
These performances -- in an informal setting -- allow the students to gain experience while getting to see their audience face-to-face, Sandlin said.
The expo promotes the dance studio, so the community can see other families and friends they know, she said.
Dancing teaches counting, memorization, using motor skills, working as a team and responsibility.
The best part? "Seeing kids come out of their shell and being able to do things they didn't think they could accomplish," Sandlin said.
Chamber official Bob Williams said he was "pleasantly surprised" at the attendance, taking into consideration the cold, snowy weather Saturday morning brought.
The giveaways, door prizes, entertainment and great food provided a good mix for expo-goers, Williams said.
The event is a family-affair to enjoy together.
"We see kids bringing their family," he said.
Williams was pleased to have several nonprofit organizations -- like the American Legion, the McDonald County Historical Society and others -- at the event. The Neosho Fish Hatchery also joined in this year. Advertising a business to future needs is important, Williams said.
"I tell our vendors, 'They will remember you when they need you.'"General News on 04/12/2018
Print Headline: Chamber Hosts Expo With Success