By Samantha SLAYBACK
This year marked the 13th annual Foothill Community Business Expo held at the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Hosted by the Crescenta Valley, La Cañada Flintridge and Montrose chambers of commerce, the event took place on the fourth floor of the main hospital building in the council rooms and hallways – both packed wall-to-wall – with businesses showcasing what they had to offer.
Starr Frazier and June Beemer with the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce sat front and center, greeting arriving guests and answering any questions.
“[The event] has been pretty busy,” said Frazier, head of Administration and Member Services. “Guests and businesses seem to be very happy with the event.”
This was evident by the hallways filled with the many exhibitors who set up booths to show off their local businesses.
“We had a lot of repeat exhibitors from years prior,” added Beemer, head of Accounting and Member Services.
The businesses represented at the event were diverse, ranging from insurance companies to restaurants, from parks to barbers. Tracy Frey, the owner of Frank’s Famous Kitchen and Catering, set up her display near the entrance. With her mother Pat Junker there to help, sweet and sour meatballs were handed out to guests. Frey’s business has been around more than 10 years and, with her husband and chef Roger, the couple has been serving diners at Frank’s Famous as well as meeting the community’s catering needs.
“We are gearing up for the holidays, so people should start putting in their orders soon,” advised Frey. She also said that there are vegetarian options on the menu and meals can be prepared vegan or gluten-free if requested in advance.
Descanso Gardens also had a booth in the hall just outside the council room. Chief Operating Officer Juliann Rooke manned the table, telling guests of a new event coming to Descanso Gardens this October. “Rise of the Jack-o-Lanterns” is a show featuring 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins. The company has been presenting the show for approximately 10 years in Connecticut, and this year marks its debut on the west coast. This is another Halloween-themed option for families as there is nothing scary about the display and Rooke assured that nothing would pop out at guests. Celebrity pumpkin carver Ray Villafane will also be making a guest appearance at the event. This show will take place every day of the week excluding Mondays and Tuesdays beginning on Oct. 3 and running until Nov. 1. Advance tickets are required and price varies based on the time slot chosen, though kids 2 years of age and under are admitted for free.
“We are expecting to see about 77,000 guests,” Rooke said. “So far we have already sold 20,000 tickets and they’re going fast.” Tickets and more information about the event are available at www.therise.org/lapumpkins.
In addition to the booths inside, guests had the chance to have sensitive documents shredded for free as part of the Tri-Community Shred Day held in conjunction with the Expo and hosted by Republic Industries-Allied Waste and SCORE, mentors to small business. Local businesses and residents could bring up to 10 boxes of paperwork to two shredding trucks located in the lower east side of the USC-VHH parking lot.
“We had a steady stream of cars and walk ups, a little more than last year,” said organizer Dick Mader of SCORE. “We almost filled the truck.”
He added that most touching was hearing from senior citizens who were “so relieved to get rid of old records but afraid to put them in the trash.
“Some had bank statements that went back to 1947,” said Mader. “We will absolutely do it again next year along with the Expo.”
Inside, Expo guests appeared to be satisfied with all that the businesses had to offer. Many tables handed out food and others hosted raffles and giveaways. Guests were filled with both food and more knowledge of local based businesses by the time the event ended at 7:30 p.m. Businesses are encouraged to contact the local Montrose, Crescenta Valley and La Cañada Flintridge chambers of commerce to apply for a spot at next year’s event.