For Ron Smith, the Santa Maria Business Expo provided a chance to see current customers, meet new ones, visit with friends and have fun.
Local businesses and nonprofit groups set up booths at the Santa Maria Fairpark on Thursday to showcase their products and services to the community at the annual trade show organized by the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“Life’s a Beach” was the theme of this year’s event, sponsored by The Towbes Group.
As he does every year, Smith, from Smith’s Alarms & Electronics, embraced the theme, with a lifeguard’s rescue can and white sunblock on his nose while a gigantic shark balloon floated above.
The trade show lets him showcase his business as a hometown company really involved in the community.
“And as you can see, I’m just having fun. That’s what it’s all about,” said Smith. “I love my community. What can I say?”
Fake palms trees and tropical themes filled the Convention Center, Park Plaza and outdoor areas as approximately 800 people wandered through the free event, getting swag such as reusable bags.
“The community seems to being coming out, which is nice to be able to introduce them to local businesses, help our local businesses raise their profile,” said Glenn Morris, chief executive officer and president of the Chamber of Commerce.
The organization claims the event is the largest trade show between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Eateries such as The Historic Santa Maria Inn, Far Western Tavern, Moxie Cafe and others served up appetizers and samples of food. The Santa Maria Valley Historical Society offered mini margaritas, while many others has bowls of salt water taffy available.
Attendees were urged to vote for their favorite booths by texting votes to a designated number. Prizes also were available for people who posted about the event on social media under the hashtag #SMBizExpo2016.
“This is a great event for us,” said Richard Persons, Fairpark chief executive officer. “We like doing this. It’s different from most of the things we do, and it is a showcase for our facilities to the business community that might use it.”