INNISFAIL – Hundreds and hundreds of locals and out of town visitors came to the Innisfail Twin Arena last weekend to welcome back an early spring tradition.
The 2022 Spring Trade Show was back after being shutdown by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2019. The doors opened at the arena from 5 to 9 p.m. on April 1, and again the next day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
When it was over, organizers had counted 1,500 citizens who attended.
There was plenty to see for everyone, young and old. On the blue rink side of the arena there was main trade show to showcase 56 display booths from local and area businesses and services.
On the red rink side, there was A Taste of Innisfail, Young Entrepreneurs, Children's Area, Auto Row, and the Farmer’s Market, which has recently opened its spring market registration.
These opportunities were all available for folks to enjoy at a nominal charge of $2 for adults, $1 for anyone under the age of 18 or over 65, and $5 for families.
“I think it went extremely well, especially since it’s the first trade show in three years,” said Carla Gabert, the Innisfail & District Chamber of Commerce's executive director. “I think people thoroughly loved the fact that there was an event. It was good for the community and it was good for business.”
Blaine Staples, president of the chamber of commerce, said the annual event’s return was important for the “community at large” because it was an opportune vehicle for “reconnecting.
“It’s a great place to do business and to promote yourself but a lot of us have been coming here for years with The Jungle Farm. It’s just a chance to meet all our neighbours and meet the new people in town and reconnect with the community,” said Staples, who is also the co-owner of The Jungle Farm.
“It’s a great time of year, the first part of April. Spring is just on its way. People are getting out and about again and looking forward to the summer time.”
“I really feel there is a huge social component,” he added. “In fact, I would like to see in the future us getting a few more of the little mainstream businesses that aren’t necessarily retailers out to participate in the show, just to create community awareness for their business but also to realize it’s a great place to come and meet your neighbours and get the pulse of the community and develop some energy to get going with the town in the summer time.”
Jamie Flaman was a new vendor to the trade show. She is the vice-president of the newly created Innisfail Special Events Planning Society that is planning a Harvest Festival for the community on Sept. 17 and 18.
“People are quite excited to have new things go on in town,” said Flaman of the opportunities the trade show offers. “Everybody is excited to get involved. I think everyone is excited to get out and just be around people, and just be at an event that is not going to cost them anything, and just enjoy the atmosphere.”