Kent Area Chamber of Commerce hosts expo and taste of Kent

Francesca Barrett

Theodore Roosevelt High School was buzzing with music and voices Saturday. The smell of food was wafting through the gymnasium.

The Kent Area Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Business, Healthcare and Community Expo and Taste of Kent, where about 80 businesses gathered to show off their products, food and services. 

Lori Wemhoff, the executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, shared that the day of event had a great turnout, despite being on St. Patrick’s Day. 

“We were slightly down in numbers, being a holiday, however, it was very steady” Wemhoff said. “I would have to say at least 1,000 people here today throughout the duration of our time for this event being 10 to two.”

Some businesses have been attending the expo for years, whereas others are attending the event for the first time.

“We’ve been attending the expo for seven years now,” said Heather Wood, veterinarian and owner of Twin Lakes Veterinary Hospital. “We’re a start-up, we just opened seven years ago, so it really gets our name out and let people know that we’re around.” 

Stephanie Anderson, the front desk receptionist of Goldfish Swim School, shared how attending the expo for the first time was a great opportunity for the new business.

“We’re a new facility that opened in Hudson, so this is our first time coming to the expo,” Anderson said. “We get to meet a lot of people that may not know about us and introduce ourselves.”

Another first-time attending business was Backattack Snacks, a vegan-based snack company. Vice President Lauren Back said that attending the expo helped the home-based brand.

“We’re building our brand awareness,” Back said. “We’re targeting the Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Kent market this summer, so coming out here and letting people know about our business, our products, helps build our brand.”

Wemhoff shared that the expo and Taste of Kent always bring a great turnout, especially for the scholarship fund that the tickets go toward.

“We do a number of things throughout the year to support the scholarship fund,” Wemhoff said. “For the Taste of Kent, the vendors give us their food for free, so there is no cost to us, so these tickets that are sold are all for profit, and then we should be able to give three $1,000 scholarships from those ticket sales.”

Wemhoff said that the KACC’s event was deemed a success and that the date is already set for next year’s expo.

“We couldn’t do any of this without the support of Kent City Schools,” Wemhoff said. “They allow us to be here today, with no charge to us, and gives an opportunity to get in front of the community … and we already have it in the books for April 6th next year.”

Francesa Barrett is the student finance reporter. Contact her at [email protected].