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Expo continues to evolve, grow
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The Fourth Annual Business and Consumer Expo for Richmond Hill and Bryan County will be a similar venue as in previous years – with some new additions and a new name.

The expo is a two-day event at the Richmond Hill Recreation Center. Friday, April 18, from 5:30-7 p.m., will be a business-to-business opportunity for setting up and seeing what other local vendors have to offer. Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the event is open to everyone in the community.

"We changed the name this year to hopefully draw more of the public in," said Expo chairperson Shirley Heagerty. "A lot of people think it’s just for businesses, but we want residents to know it’s for them to come and see the different businesses – be able to look, buy some of their products and have a good time."

Heagerty took over for Michelle Englehart as chairperson this year. Englehart kicked off the original Expo and had been chair for three years running.

"I am on the committee still," Englehart said. "I stepped back because I wanted to get fresh, new ideas so this could keep evolving."

Englehart described the event as a positive thing for businesses on a more personal level, because there’s room to meet others in the community and see what everyone has to offer.

"Last year was the first business-to-business and it was really well received," she said. "You never have enough time, when you own your own business, to see what other people offer. This was a great addition for networking."

Bryan Bank and Trust President Brad Brookshire said they’ve been involved the last couple years and this year, Brookshire is on the Expo committee as vice chair.

"In years past, it’s typically been a struggle to get the public to come through. But this is a chance for the local residents to see what’s being offered in your community," Brookshire said. "Very few small businesses have the chance to get out and about like they can during this event, so we’re looking forward to doing the business-to-business on Friday night again this year. And the goal is always to get people to come see what the local vendors have to offer." 

This will be the first year the expo has ever done a barbecue cook off. While Heagarty said the Expo committee hasn’t nailed down all the details yet, she thinks it’ll be an exciting addition to the event.

"Last year we had about 800 attendees, so we’re looking to get 1,000 this year," she said. "This year, we’re expecting 70 businesses inside, which won’t include vendors for the barbecue cook-off or other businesses (with bigger displays) that will set up outside the building."

Heagerty said the Expo committee currently has about 20 people and everyone is welcome to get involved. Thursday, April 17, is the day she said they’ll really need help – setting up tables and chairs for vendors.

"My goal is to make sure all the vendors understand what we’re trying to offer to them, and I hope everything goes very smoothly," she said. "I want everybody to come in and have a good time, and be willing to return again next year." 

The event is free to attend and there will be parking available on-site.

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