Fort St. John is for the 43rd time gearing up for the annual CKNL Trade Show this weekend, and this one will once again be bigger than ever.
According to organizers, they’ve added about 20 more booths this year, the most they’ve ever had, and the most they can actually fit in the Pomeroy Sport Centre. The show has been sold out for the past couple of weeks now.
“I’ve said this every year, but it truly is our biggest show this year,” said organizer Christina Hogarth. Five years ago, the show consolidated from three separate locations into one at the Pomeroy Sport Centre, giving them a lot more space to work with. But this year will be tight, with around 310 booths lining the walls on both levels and intersecting the open area on the main floor of the facility.
“This year we added more booths, but we’re pretty much at capacity, we can’t get any more booths in there. It’s kind of exciting,” said Hogarth.
With about a 60 per cent renewal rate from vendors, many of the same booths past attendees have seen will be set up. Many of them have been coming to the show year after year for a long time, and not all of them are local.
“We have a few that come every single year and they’re from out of town, actually quite a few that have been in for 20 years and they just come because it’s a great show and a great town — the town really supports it,” she said. “And then we do have lots of local vendors too that have been in it year after year.”
There’s also a large contingent of new vendors, there for the first time.
Of course, there’s all of the typical trade show food to look forward to, like mini donuts, lemonade, cotton candy, and candy apples.
“You couldn’t have a show without trade show food,” said Hogarth. Many local restaurants attend to feed the crowds.
And there are a lot of people to feed. Last year the show saw 16,000 attendees, a number that Hogarth hopes to match this year.
“I don’t want to be greedy, sure I’d like to say more than that, but if we could hit 16,000 again that would be fantastic.” The show has seen growth of about a thousand people every year for the past three years.
Finally, there will always be something for the kids. Aside from face-painting and bouncy castles, there’s typically an entertainment aspect to the show. Last year it was Safari Jeff, showing live reptiles to children and adults. This year, that will be provided by Science World, who will have Keva plank interactive building demonstrations throughout the day – one on Friday evening, four on Saturday, and three on Sunday.
“One of the focuses is that we want to make it a very family-friendly show as well,” said Hogarth. “Being such a young town with young kids and young families; I’ve got two young kids myself, so I know if you keep the kids happy then the parents are happier.”
The show is this weekend, beginning Friday evening continuing through to Sunday evening.