Two popular events join forces as EXPO, ArtsExpress team up

Graphic provided.

Two of Huntington’s most popular events have joined forces to create a mega business and arts experience on the same day and in the same place.

The Huntington County Business EXPO/ArtsExpress exhibition takes place Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Huntington University Fieldhouse. Admission is free.

The event marries the biennial business EXPO with the Huntington County Community School Corporation’s annual ArtsExpress showcase, both of which in past years fell on the same day. This year visitors will be able to experience both events under one roof.

Huntington County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Steve Kimmel says the two events had teamed up in the past, and it made a lot of sense to have the two in the same place again rather than one draw people away from the other event.

“We used to have really large crowds there,” Kimmel explains. “We had all the elementary choirs, we had the Bev Johnson School of Dance, we had the YMCA Strings and everything. Then, over the last two – maybe the last three – EXPOs, ArtsExpress kind of went their own way, over to Crestview School, and we stayed at the university.”

Since ArtsExpress included the choir performances and other entertainment, attendance dropped at the Business EXPO to around 2,000 in 2016. Last year, the Chamber opted not to have the EXPO, putting the project on hold. But this year, Kimmel expects between 4,000 and 5,000 people will come see both the business vendors and the best in this year’s kindergarten through 12th-grade art, as well as enjoy the school choirs and other entertainment planned.

Nearly 50 vendors have now signed on to set up a booth at the EXPO, Kimmel says. The HCCSC schools and other entertainment groups will also have booths, totaling 75 on the expo side.

Among the notable booths this year are:

• The Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, which will serve as a drop-off for outdated or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications.

• Parkview Huntington Hospital, offering free blood pressure checks as well as T’ai chi ch’üan exercises.

• Huntington Chevrolet will bring in two or three vehicles for visitors to explore, Kimmel says.

• The Joy Pleasers Clowns will provide hijinks and activities for kids.

• The Chamber of Commerce’s booth will feature information from SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a non-profit organization that provides free and confidential business mentoring services to prospective and established small business owners in the U.S.

The chamber will also have a coffee cart making its way through the EXPO, serving free coffee and hot chocolate.

Kimmel says the vendors are excited to be back at the EXPO. Many have told him having a booth at the EXPO has generated some good business every time they participate.

The ArtsExpress area will include participation from Andrews, Flint Springs, Horace Mann, Lincoln and Salamonie elementary schools; Crest-view Middle School; Huntington North High School; and Huntington Catholic School, a new participant in the show this year.

Trace Hinesley, director of special programs at HCCSC, says the best of a variety of media and styles will be presented, including painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, digital/mixed media and crafts. Those who have only attended the business EXPO in recent years will get a special treat.

“We thought this is such a nice way to showcase our community, by looking at EXPO as more of a community piece versus just the business piece and how arts do have a place in our community,” she says. “On one side of the fieldhouse you’re going to see numerous music presentations under ArtsExpress this year, so not only do we have elementary groups performing at ArtsExpress, but we also have YMCA Strings that will be participating along with Bev Johnson Dance, which has a group that will be performing. Then we have Circle the State.”

The entertainment schedule includes:

• 9:30 a.m. – Salamonie Singers

• 10 a.m. – Circle the State with Song, a regional honor choir for students in fourth through eighth grade

• 10:30 a.m. – Horace Mann Husky Harmonies

• 11 a.m. – Roanoke Rhythm

• 1 p.m. – Bev Johnson School of Dance

• 2 p.m. – YMCA Strings

In addition, high school art students will offer face painting and a make-it-take-it craft project for youngsters.

“We’re just excited to be more out in the community and working with our local businesses to make Huntington shine,” Hinesley adds. “This is a very promising time for Huntington, as we also are on the verge of opening up the Arts Center downtown. I think this is just another step in that direction.”

Door prizes will also be donated by vendors and given away throughout the day, and the Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a grand prize drawing. Food will be available for purchase throughout the day from various local eateries.

More information is available by visiting huntingtoncountychamber.com or by contacting the Chamber office at 356-5300.