LITTLE CURRENT—Talk about your one stop shopping, that is what the Little Current-Howland Recreation Complex became last weekend as the hugely popular biennial Manitoulin Trade Fair was held for the 15th time. The event drew over 135 vendors (including 43 new participants displaying/selling their wares throughout the complex building (both downstairs and upstairs), as well as outside.
“It went really well, we drew an overall crowd of about 5,800 people for the weekend,” stated Mike Addison, general manager of LAMBAC. “We felt that on Friday evening we were on par with our last Trade Fair, while our numbers on Saturday were better this year (compared to two years ago). On Sunday we were down a bit due to the weather, but overall we were up about 360-380 people over the last Trade Fair.”
“We sold out all our booths,” said Mr. Addison who pointed out, “we measure the success of the Trade Fair on how the vendors feel it went. The vendors this year talked about how pleased they were with everything and said that this year’s fair was even better than the last one.
Under sunny skies last Friday evening, the official opening of the Trade Fair took place. A small delegation from the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Manitoulin escorted in the dignitaries for the official opening, including FedNor director general Aime Dimatteo, Waubetek business services manager Jason Peltier, Northeast town Mayor Al MacNevin, Algoma-Manitoulin Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes, LAMBAC Board Chair Dennis Shepitka, LAMBAC board member Kelly O’Hare and Algoma-Manitoulin MPP Michael Mantha.
“Welcome to the 15th biannual Manitoulin Trade Fair, which showcases businesses in the Manitoulin—Lacloche area,” said Mr. Addison.
He introduced elder Leona Nahwegahbow of the Whitefish River First Nation who began the ceremony with a prayer.
“Hello everyone and welcome to the Trade Fair,” said Mayor MacNiven. “Congratulations to LAMBAC and Mike and his staff for this event, which showcases new and old businesses in the area. And to all the sponsors.”
Diane Newlands, of LAMBAC and Trade Fair coordinator noted that there were several new businesses present for the fair, which included the added bonuses of mascots, magicians and a clown to entertain the younger patrons. “We again have free face painting by Chantelle.” She noted the many sponsors who provided funding support and sponsors, “without all of you there would not be a Trade Fair.” She also praised NEMI complex manager Reid Taylor and the arena for doing a fantastic job in helping to get things ready.
“You know it is spring when the Trade Fair is here,” said MP Hughes and MPP Mantha bade attendees “welcome to the best trade fair in Northern Ontario.”
“On behalf of FedNor I would like to say how proud we are of the work that LAMBAC and Waubetek Business Services do,” said Mr. Dimatteo. “To all directors and, this is the largest trade fair for businesses in Northern Ontario. Be proud of it.”
Mr. Addison pointed out, “140 years ago to this day, The Manitoulin Expositor went to print for the first time. We congratulate them and hope that you visit their booth this weekend where they will be having cupcakes they will be handing out to all customers.”
The Manitoulin Expositor was launching a new website, exploremanitoulin.com, focused primarily on providing timely information to tourists visiting Manitoulin, but a great resource for local residents as well.
One of the long standing vendors of the Trade Fair is Jakes Furniture and Appliances. “For sure, we can’t miss this event. We have big sales over the weekend, but even more important is the exposure we get by being here and the products we sell,” said Adam Smith.
Janice Abbott, operator of Eagleowl Party Rentals, which opened about a year ago in Mindemoya said, “this is the first time I’ve been to the Trade Fair as a vendor. I’m very impressed with everything.”
Manitoulin Coffee Co. is based out of Gore Bay. “We have packaged/bagged coffee beans, we get the beans from Brazil and then the beans are ground directly here,” said Neil Deschamps, who said that he and his fiancee Brianna Harris were at the booth this weekend to help Alana (Harris) at her booth at the trade fair.
During the weekend judges selected the various winners of the best booth categories. In the small booth category, first prize went to EagleOwl Party Rentals of Mindemoya, while Mindemoya’s Danielle Legge and her booth Freshwater Studies took second place. In the large booth category first place was awarded to the Township of Assiginack with booth representatives Jackie White and Sylvie Thibault. Second place went to Manitoulin Radio Communication owners Craig and Kelly Timmermans and their radio stations Country 103 and Glow 100.
The award for Best of Fair went once again to Island Home Outfitters, which won the same award at the 2017 Manitoulin Trade Fair.
A 65” smart TV raffled by The Expositor was won by Earl Laidley.
“We had a lot of comments from some of the vendors who go to similar shows in other places,” said Mr. Addison. “They commented on how good the event was, how organized it was and how good the venue was.” He noted as well, “some of the members of the Manitoulin Panthers hockey teams helped vendors pack up at the end of the fair on Sunday. They were terrific staff, and everyone involved.”