by Stephen Dafoe
stephen@morinvillenews.com

A new name and new direction are two of the things the Morinville and District Chamber of Commerce are hoping will provide the remedy to revitalize the business organization’s annual spring trade show.

Run as an opportunity for the community to become acquainted with and support local businesses, the spring show has also been a fundraiser for the Chamber in the past. Recent years have seen a diminishing return for the annual event despite the organization putting three months planning and effort into the show. Last year saw costs exceeding revenue by $200, a situation the Chamber does not want to repeat in 2016.

“It hasn’t been working well, as most people know, for the last few years,” said Chamber Board member Penny Modien. “So we have a new look and a new name — Explore the Wonders instead of Leap into Spring.”

But changing the name is not the only change for the annual event. Realizing the difficulty in small businesses taking time away from their shops and families for three days, the Chamber has decided to eliminate the Sunday portion, and launch the event at noon on Friday.

“We decided to go the Friday / Saturday to give the local small businesses a day off on Sunday,” she said. “Sunday was not a big day. There was not a big draw on Sunday.”

But dropping Sunday is not the only thing the Chamber is dropping this time around. Modien said admission charges at the gate are a thing of the past. “The gate admission was something that was not well received,” she said. “We’re going to do a donation basis that was worked well in different communities in the past.”

This year’s event will take place April 22 and 23, a chosen date that no longer puts the event in competition with St. Albert’s Trade Show. As a result, Modien said they have already got a few vendors lined up from Morinville, St. Albert and Legal.

Although the Chamber expects to see some regular businesses, they are going to reach out to agricultural dealers to add a rural component to the show. Additionally, a separate section of smaller booths is being planned for home-based businesses so they can have a better opportunity to participate in the show.

The Chamber is hoping to connect with local musicians, dancers, and other entertainers once again and have them hit the stage during the two-day event. They will also be lining up local food trucks outside to feed attendees.

Modien said they were now booking booths for the event. Prices are the same as 2015: $295 for members, $395 for non-members. Additional booths are $195 for members and $250 for non-members. Non-profit groups will pay just $190. Home-based businesses can purchase a smaller booth for $190.

The Explore the Wonders Trade Show will take place Apr. 22 from noon to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. for more information, call the Morinville & District Chamber of Commerce at 780-939-9462.

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