Mardi Gras is theme of Westsound Business Expo

It’s a chance to learn about local businesses and have some fun all at the same time.

That’s what the Westsound Business Expo is all about.

“Our focus is really on having fun,” said John Hunter, who has organized the event. “We want everybody to come out just to have a good time.”

The Westsound Business Expo, in its sixth year, will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Kitsap Sun Pavillion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds. More than 150 exhibitors will have booths where they will share what they do with the public. Larger commercial businesses and the smaller “Mom and Pop businesses” will be included, Hunter said.

“This is sponsored by a number of chambers in the area,” Hunter said. “And many of those who will be there will be chamber members. But we want everybody to participate — to come and have some food and get to know us.”

The theme of this year’s expo is Celebrate Mardi Gras. There will be free beads and chocolates being handed out and there will be a parade at 5:30 p.m. Kids are welcome to join in the parade.

“We’ve got a float that will go around inside the building and we’ll be playing pop and Cajun music,” Hunter said. “It’s really a spirited thing.”

For exhibitors and businesses, there will be a session of speed networking. Individuals will stand in two lines and much like speed dating, they will have a minute or two to hand off a business card to the person across from them, and tell a bit about their business. When the whistle blows, it will be time to move on to the next person to the right.

“There’s such an opportunity to meet so many people,” Hunter said. “You can market yourself and make new contacts all in a very fun atmosphere.”

Many booths will have samples of their wares and food for those attending to share and there will be a special area for children.

“Upstairs the children can enjoy the Home Depot Kids Zone that will feature construction kits, the Reptile Snake Man, a jumping house, face painting, and arts and crafts,” he said. “And the Poulsbo Princesses will be there, along with McGruff the crime dog. Kids can have their pictures taken with them.”

Along with all the activity, there will be more than $5,000 in prizes awarded. Hunter, who owns The Logo Loft, is a member of several of the sponsoring chambers. His business puts logos on banners and other products such as clothing items.

“When I moved here, I was surprised at how many different chambers were in the area,” he said. “Back home in Charlotte (NC) there was only one. I love this event because it gets together all the chambers and their members and the general public for a really fun time.”

The event’s main sponsor is Kitsap Credit Union. Participating chambers of commerce include: Bremerton, Bainbridge, Gig Harbor, Kingston, Poulsbo, Port Orchard, North Mason and Silverdale. There is no fee to attend.

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