Veteran Trade Fair organizer pleased with current edition

To The Expositor:

A big congratulations to the organizers of this years Manitoulin Trade Fair XI.

Mary Nelder and Louise McKeen did a great job!

The time change from May to June was long overdue. Those who exhibited and attended past May trade shows, when the temperatures hovered around 4 degrees Celsius, will remember how extremely cold the main ice surface can be.

The main ice surface is a cold place to begin with. In early May the ice has just been taken out and there is no way to heat the ice surface nor the arena itself. The June date means that companies like HarCor and JD Garden Centre can actually sell their flowers. The ferry is running and many more of the summer folk are around. The Victoria Day weekend is a traditional “open the camp” weekend. Connie and I saw and talked with many of our off Island friends who had done just that: open their camps.

It is always amazing to see the breadth of businesses and services operating in the LaCloche area. Manitoulin Trade Fair XI was no exception. The new businesses were there as were businesses that have been in the show since the inception in 1987.

It is always exciting for me to see and talk to the new young entrepreneurs who are just starting up. Their enthusiasm and hopes for success now and growth in the future energize us all.

Louise McKeen, your show organizer, brings her skills not only as a Lambac employee but as a business entrepreneur to this show. Who would ever have thought that a chocolate shop would grow and be so successful for so long, based in one of the smallest communities on Manitoulin Island, Kagawong.

When I was in business here on Manitoulin from 1972 – 2005, I would drop in to the store in Kagawong for my chocolate fix.

We came up from the Niagara Peninsula for this show and I, of course, stocked up on my favourite chocolate—”the milk bearclaws.”

Louise and Mary had a huge challenge this year. Jake took ill and Jake’s had to withdraw from the show. This probably cost the show 1,500 attendees. With Jake’s out, there was no major furniture company as an exhibitor.

During the first few shows, the upstairs hall was used for a fashion show and weekend long entertainment. But in those early years we grew quickly from our initial 114 booth spaces. So we divided up the ‘hall into 27 booth spaces. Jake called and said, ‘I want them all.’

From his first show, Jake created synergies with the trade show. He adventured heavily and tied his advertising in with ours. We hired Moose FM for live remotes and Jake hired him for live remotes for the times we did not book.

Then there were the dueling furniture companies. Two of Manitoulin’s premier furniture outlets: Jake’s and Snappy’s would outdo each other on air. Snappy vowed to beat any trade fair price and Jake’s would vow to beat any Snappy’s price. Both stores did extremely well on Trade Fair weekend. The show benefited from this huge extra exposure as the show attendance really grew.

I understand that Adam Smith of Jake’s will be back in the upstairs hall for Manitoulin Trade Fair XII. This is great news!

It was really great for Connie and I to talk with so many of our friends this past weekend. We are so pleased to see how many of “our” exhibitors are doing so well.

May God bless you all and we hope that your businesses continue to thrive and grow.

Frank Reynolds
formerly of Manitoulin CIRCA 1972 – 2005