By Gabe Licht
DELANO, MN Many local businesses and vendors are slated to showcase their offerings to the Delano community Saturday, April 11, at the Delano Area Chamber of Commerce’s 26th annual community expo. The event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Delano High School’s Tiger Activity Center, will feature something for everyone those who have been in the community for years, those new to the community, or those with a general interest in the Delano area.
“Our event features a good representation of the Delano community,” said Delano Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ryan Gueningsman. “There are several businesses displaying that have been in town for more than 30 years, and some that are brand new to the community.”
In addition to showcasing local businesses, many local non-profit organizations will also be highlighted.
“It’s a very important part of our expo to help our local non-profits raise awareness for their various efforts and initiatives,” Gueningsman said. “They receive a discounted booth rate to participate in the expo each year.”
This year’s non-profit organizations that will be represented include: Delano Lions, Delano Jaycees, Delano SnoStormers, Friends of the Delano Public Library, YMCA Camp Ihduapi, Delano Sportsmen’s Club, Delano Girl Scouts, Delano Royalty Organization, Delano American Legion Family, Delano Special Olympics, and the American Cancer Society Delano Relay for Life.
Another highlight of this year’s event will feature local historian Bill Eppel, who will have his photo albums from Delano’s years past for attendees to peruse at their leisure.
The first Delano business expo, which took place May 5, 1990, had 52 exhibitors, featured a grand prize giveaway of a BBQ gas grill, and brought the KARE11 Health Fair to town. The first two expos (1990 and 1991) took place in the “new” Delano Area Sports Arena, according to the DACC. In 1993, the expo moved to the “old gym” and middle school areas of Delano Public Schools, and, in 2003, the expo was moved to its present home at the Delano High School’s Tiger Activity Center.
An experienced expo committee works like a well-oiled machine to produce the annual event. This year’s committee consists of longtime committee chairman Daryl MacLean, Sabrina Stevens, Ann Latterelle, Andrea MacLean, Adam Kleve, Mike Nielsen, and Gueningsman.
“This doesn’t happen unless we get the help of volunteers,” MacLean said, recognizing groups like Youth As Resources (YAR), the National Honor Society and student council, and other dedicated chamber members who work at the expo.
Over the years, a rising number of exhibitors has seen the expo go from utilizing one-eighth of the Tiger Activity Center to using more than half of it. Attendance averages at the expo over the past five years range from 850 to more than 1,000 people.
“It is really an opportunity for citizens to learn about the area businesses,” MacLean said.
Expo sponsors have also become a large part of making the event happen year after year. This year’s limited expo sponsorships sold out at a record rate. This year’s platinum sponsors are Minnesota Lakes Bank, Bagy Jo/DRV Promotional, and Chevrolet of Delano/Carousel Motorsports. Gold Sponsors are MacLean Law Office, Sherman Insurance Agency Mike Nielsen, Coborn’s, Dojo Karate, Award Staffing, Bauman Financial, Vanderlinde Group/Re/MAX Edge, State Bank of Delano, GrandStay Hotel & Suites, Alex Roeser American Family Insurance Agency, Golden LivingCenter Delano, and Bryce Deter State Farm Agency.
“We’re excited to have several of our newest businesses in town Award Staffing and GrandStay Hotel & Suites jump onboard with expo sponsorships and becoming active members of the chamber,” Gueningsman said.
Coordinating the expo each year, the DACC promotes the Delano community on behalf of its member businesses. It is a member-driven organization governed by a board of directors made up of nine volunteer business people and staffed by a part-time executive director. Chamber members range from small, one-person, home-based businesses, to the largest businesses and employers in Delano.
Regular general membership meetings are the third Thursday of each month at noon. For the location of the next meeting, call (763) 972-6756, or e-mail email@example.com.
Other events and meetings are posted on the website and communicated to members through e-mail and social media. Check out the DACC website at www.delanochamber.com and also find the chamber’s Facebook page.