Booths served up samples of chili, bunches of Brussels sprouts and lots of cotton candy alongside information for and about businesses Thursday afternoon at ExpoFest 2019 in Santa Maria.
Restaurants, stores, nonprofit organizations and others filled the Fairpark’s convention center for what organizers touted as a Santa Maria-style celebration of local businesses. There were 60 booths in all.
Attendance might have been lighter than expected over the two-hour span, but participants found the interaction valuable, organizers said.
“What I’m hearing from the businesses, they may not be seeing lots of people, but with the people they’re seeing they’re having a good discussion, so it’s more substantive,” said Glenn Morris, Chamber of Commerce president/chief executive officer.
Admission was free for a business card or $2 at the gate.
“I think there’s really two reasons we do this,” Morris said. “One is to facilitate the conversation between businesses and the public and to let people rediscover who’s in town.
But the event also has a business-to-business component, providing an opportunity for representatives of assorted businesses to mingle and sometimes form partnerships for future activities.
The trade show provides a forum for some businesses, like those in the energy sector, to speak directly to community members, Morris said.
“It’s an important industry in our community that gets talked about a lot, but rarely has a chance to talk to people directly to tell their story one on one to a human being,” Morris said. “So this gives me that chance.
Aera Energy, ExxonMobil and subcontractors were among energy-related businesses participating in ExpoFest 2019.
Others on hand were the Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture to tout the inaugural Santa Barbara County Farm Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 28, when visitors will create their own itinerary to experience a day of agricultural activities and meet the local growers.
State Employment Development Department workers chatted up security firm representatives about potential ways they could work together to help people get prepared for jobs in the career field.
Outside at the booth for radio stations owner Emerald Wave Media, Fred Lariz enthusiastically churned out pink and blue cotton candy for the adult attendees while SEEAG handed out fresh vegetables.
Mayor Alice Patino was among those visiting booths where she said she found a lot of resources.
“I thought it was good,” Patino said.