by TaLeiza Calloway
The gym at Kennedy Community School was often crowded April 20 during the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce Community Showcase. This was the first year for the event and judging from attendance, it was something many enjoyed.
Between 400 and 500 people attended the event, which was designed to introduce new businesses in the city and to make it possible for visitors to mingle with people from familiar businesses, as well.
About 30 businesses staffed display booths and shared information on their services.
Organizers were pleased with their first run.
“This is an exciting turnout,” Vicki Dahl said. “This was a test to see how it goes, and it passed.”
Dahl is a member of the planning committee for the showcase. Chamber board member Randy Schmitz shared Dahl’s excitement about the turnout.
“This has been great,” Schmitz said. “We had a lot of people coming in during the first hour.”
Schmitz said he heard positive feedback during the event and got some suggestions for improvements for next year’s event. They hope to have more entertainment throughout the event and add more games for children in the future.
Attendees not only had a chance to try samples and learn about businesses within the city but could also tour Kennedy school. Since the event had an Earth Day theme, the school tour was fitting as the school boasts environmentally-friendly features. In addition to tours, kids’ games and refreshments, there was also some live entertainment. Third- and fourth-grade students at Kennedy performed for guests, singing songs that included the “Star Spangled Banner” and “This Land is Your Land.”
Jeremy Palmer of Sartell liked that the event offered something for everyone. As his son Isaac, 3, conquered the bean-bag toss, his other children shot some hoops.
Vendors were also grateful for the chance to meet residents. Melody Clark, bakery manager at Coborn’s in St. Joseph, saw some new and familiar faces at the event.
“It’s a nice thing for families to do on a Saturday,” Clark said of the event.
Jami Trenam was glad to see so many people interested in what their city has to offer. Trenam is on the board for the Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph, a local food and art cooperative.
“For this to be the first year, I didn’t really know what to expect but this is phenomenal,” Trenam said. “It really builds community.”
Kendra Dierkes met some interesting characters at the showcase. When the 4-year-old St. Joseph resident ran into “Ricky the Raccoon” and “Moobell” from the local Coborn’s, she just had to show her mother.
“She was supposed to be at the kids’ games,” her mother, Amy, said with a smile. “She wanted them to meet me.”