Business

Merrimack expo this weekend

Thursday, September 27, 2012

By ERIN PLACE

Staff Writer

MERRIMACK – As far as Dave McCray is concerned, the best way to get people to visit local businesses and organizations is to host a free event in the center of town.

“We were looking for ways to try to help businesses in Merrimack get noticed,” said McCray, former chairman of the Merrimack Town Council.

That was the reasoning behind the Merrimack Fall Festival Business Expo, which the Town Council began in 2006, when McCray served as chairman.

“We’re basically looking for a free event where people can go out and spend a few hours, see what’s going on in the community,” he said. “The feeling was, if you ask a bunch of people to come out on a Saturday and look at a bunch of businesses in town, it ain’t going to happen.

“We have found that that is a very good recipe,” McCray said of bringing people local businesses and organizations together at a one-stop shop at the fall and business expo.

The sixth edition of the event is scheduled 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, in the town center. This year’s venues are indoors and outdoors and include the Town Hall at 6 Baboosic Lake Road, the Our Lady of Mercy parking lot, O’Gara Field and Mastricola Upper Elementary School. In attempting to bring all of the activities closer, organizers removed Abbie Griffin Park from the venue list, McCray said.

The expo is free and open to the public.

So far, there are 85-90 vendors signed up for this year’s event, and McCray said that with signs going up around town to advertise the expo, which started Sept. 15, an additional 50-60 vendors could be expected to register.

McCray said one of the goals of the event is to have something for everyone. That’s why there are many kid-friendly activities, including Wally the Green Monster on hand to greet youngsters and pose for pictures. Other activities include face painting, one of Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses and McDonny’s Petting Farm.

There is another reason behind holding activities geared toward children.

“With the kids come the parents,” McCray said.

Also scheduled for the multi-venue event is live entertainment from Siroteau as well as Brian and Gardner Murphy, along with Bernie Del Llano, of Perfect Entertainment, who will run karaoke. There are plenty of demonstrations to watch, including two from the police department featuring their K-9 unit and the other on Tasers, a robotics demo from the FIRST Robotics Team, and a demo from the Fire Department.

The Police Department is also hosting a three-on-three basketball tournament and whiffle ball tournament. There is still room for additional teams. Anyone interested in signing up can contact McCray at dmccray7@aol.com.

The first year the business expo was held, there were roughly 50 vendors who participated. The following year, that number increased to 75, McCray said. He noted that there have been as many as 150 vendors showing off their wares and services.

Two years ago, the event hit its peak of visitors with nearly 7,500 people. In 2011, this number was lower because there were heavy rains that kept people away.

“It’s all about the weather. If it ain’t good weather, we will still draw 6,000 or more, but the weather is what makes the event. It’s a fall festival,” McCray said. “Even though we can do it all inside, we love the outside part of it.”

McCray said the expo is self-funding, meaning it is paid for entirely through the vendors’ fees and that no taxpayer money is used.

According to McCray, last year was the first time that the expo was opened to participants outside of Merrimack. The Town Council has continued this practice as a way to help promote businesses and organizations in the immediate area.

“If you had a business outside of Merrimack and you felt that you could benefit from it, then you can do it,” he said.

Spaces are still available for vendors. Those interested can contact McCray at dmccray7@aol.com.

For more information, visit www.merrimackexpo.com.

Erin Place can be reached at 594-6589 or eplace@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Place on Twitter (@Telegraph_ ErinP).

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