Businesses come together at Extravaganza
by Meghann Evans
Organizers were disappointed last Thursday when a winter storm forced them to postpone the fourth annual Stokes County Business Extravaganza. But the delay and the chilly weather did not put a damper on the party Tuesday night.
The YMCA Camp Hanes gym was reminiscent of a sock hop Tuesday as people decked out in 1950’s attire mingled at what has become the largest gathering in the county for local business leaders. The theme this year was “Hop Around the Rock.”
Attendance was down a little from the RSVP count of more than 300, but Stokes County Economic Development Director Alan Wood still estimated that about 270 people attended the growing event. He was well pleased.
“People are talking, and that’s what it’s for — to get people conversing. This is really the only venue to make that happen,” said Wood.
This year’s event was moved from the dining hall to the camp gym to provide more space for the dozens of booths that businesses set up. Wood said the venue worked much better, providing space for everyone to be in one room.
Zollie Smith with Pilot Floor Covering said, “It’s getting bigger every year. We look forward to it.”
The room had a “very positive energy” Tuesday, Smith said.
“I just think it’s extremely important,” he said of the networking event. “It’s about building relationships. People buy from people.”
Smith said he marks it down on the calendar every year to attend.
For some people, the event was a new experience. Penny Bingman is the new executive director for United Fund of Stokes County, and the event offered her the opportunity to share her organization’s message with local business leaders. Various non-profit organizations were represented at the event in addition to the many businesses in attendance. Bingman set up a TV screen and DVD player to show people who visited her booth a short video about the United Fund’s mission and campaign.
“I’m very pleased with the amount of people who have come through,” Bingman noted. “I think this is a good thing for the county.”
Auctioneer Joe Southern has operated Southern and Son’s Auction Company for almost a year, and this was his first time attending the Business Extravaganza.
“It’s a good social event for the businesses in Stokes County,” said Southern, noting it was an ideal time to meet new people and exchange ideas.
While at the event, Southern made several new business contacts and even lined up someone to produce brochures for his business. Southern sees the event as a step forward for the county.
“The economic development director did a good job of trying to do a positive thing for Stokes County,” Southern remarked. “He’s making a push in the right direction.”
Southern said he thinks the county could even expand on the event, perhaps adding workshops for businesses.
This year’s free event included “car hop approved” food, live music from Taylor Vaden, and door prizes.
Stokes County Commissioner Jimmy Walker said Tuesday after mingling with folks: “It’s nice to be a part of a nice positive event like this. We have a tradition to build on now.”
He continued, “It’s vital, because we don’t have enough events of this kind. It helps all the businesses to find out more about each other.”
As people continued to mill about and socialize at the Extravaganza, Wood said with a smile, “It’s done exactly what it’s supposed to do.”
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