This year’s fair attendance tops last event by 600-plus
LITTLE CURRENT—The crowds have come and gone, the vendor booths are packed up and stowed away, while the vendors themselves have likely headed off to soak their feet in Epsom salts, but the folks at LAMBAC are still dancing in the aisles over this year’s attendance figures.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” said LAMBAC General Manager Mike Addison. “We had to do some careful calculations, kids get in free and the admissions are up (so simply dividing the gate doesn’t provide a complete picture), but we appear to be up about 600 people from the last Manitoulin Trade Fair.”
That year’s tally was about 7,200, putting this year close to 8,000. Not necessarily and all time record (Manitoulin Trade Fair co-founder and enthusiastic community booster Frank Reynolds often cited a 10,000 visitor figure), but a tremendously successful weekend by all accounts.
“We really measure success by the reaction of the vendors,” said Mr. Addison. That verdict has been universally positive. “People have made connections, lots of new outlets have been found for products and a number of vendors have been booked for product demonstrations.”
“A lot of vendors booked their booths for the next trade fair before they left this year,” he said.
Shoulder to shoulder crowds were to be found wandering the display floors each day of the event, so it would be hard to imagine greater numbers at the gate. “We had people here from across the North Shore, Elliot Lake, Sudbury and even some people from Windsor,” said Mr. Addison. “Of course the folks from Windsor probably didn’t drive all the way up just for the trade fair, but they came while they were here.”
Dignitaries attending the opening ceremonies were escorted to the doors and ribbon cutting (untying actually) by the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps, who were also to be found having a tag day during the trade fair to raise funds for their programs.
Northeast Town Mayor welcomed the attendees and vendors to the host community, backed by many of the mayors and reeves from across Manitoulin, including Ontario’s longest serving municipal public servant, the venerable Aus Hunt of Billings, master of ceremonies Mac Emiry of Massey and both Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Mike Mantha. FedNor Director General Amie De Matteo was also on hand, it is through the auspices of FedNor funding, as well as the hard work of LAMBAC staff that the trade fair is possible every second year.
Although it is LAMBAC that puts on the biennial Manitoulin Trade Fair, the organization itself does not have a booth at the fair. “We wouldn’t have the manpower to operate it,” laughed Mr. Addison. “It is a lot of work putting this on and the staff have been going steady on this for a long time.”
Was it worth all the effort? “Yes,” was Mr. Addison’s response. “Allison (Bentley, the Manitoulin Trade Fair coordinator) and I were out on the floor visiting the vendors all weekend,” he said. The smiles on the faces of the exhibitors said it all.