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Trade Expo attracts 70 vendors, 2,500 visitors


Last weekend, the Civic Centre and the New Arena were host to an event that showed the diversity and strength of the community of Smithers and northwestern BC.

The 2024 Northwest BC Trade Expo featured more than 70 vendors and attracted more than 2,500 visitors. Good weather and spring temperatures encouraged a wide range of participation.

Sheena Miller, executive director with Smithers District Chamber of Commerce was more than happy with the turnout and the energy of the event.

“The Trade Expo is a phenomenal economic driver for the region,” she said.

She noted that the restaurants and motels in town indicated they were full for the weekend.

This year’s expo was the best showing coming out of COVID. There were numerous new vendors outside, such as Inland Trucking, and it was the second time Recreation Vehicles were on display in the new arena.

In addition, RCMP, emergency services, political parties and other community groups handed out information.

“There was a little bit for everyone,” Miller said. “I was impressed with the various hooks that so many of the groups had to encourage people to bring their families down. The vendors know how to strategically incentivize innovative products.”

Another big draw was the live entertainment and popular food sellers that went with the beer garden. Regional musicians came from communities all over the area such as Burns Lake and Vanderhoof.

“We’re reaching out to vendors from all over the province to showcase the best of northwestern BC,” Miller said.

Her feeling was that the best of northern BC is all about the people. While not every vendor could be present for a variety of reasons, those who were there presented some of what makes the area a great place to live and work.

According to Miller, the benefits were not just about any returns on a group’s investment that they might get from the event, but also being part of a community-driven event.

She felt the exposition did very well in terms of the number of vendors this year and that there would be room for maybe another 10 next year.

While nothing definite is in the cards for future shows, the exposition might be considering some changes in the future such as having the event every two years and expanding the outdoor component possible including a large outdoor concert stage.

Organizers would be looking at how to make it more exciting and attractive than it already is. They are looking toward having more alternative energy groups and encouraging an Artificial Intelligence segment from the tech sector.

Another goal would be to get both arenas packed so both have more complete attendance.

Miller said that she would like to see more volunteers to help with the organization of the event, more community partners and a greater number of local vendors in the future.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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