Though the Community Recreation Center on Tuesday was packed with sales reps, food outlets and businesses from across town, Windsor Business Expo organizers are going back to the drawing board after a lackluster community turnout to the traditionally crowded annual event.
Michal Connors, executive director for the Windsor Chamber of Commerce, said the drop in attendance was likely a result of several factors, including an earlier expo date this year and an event-crazed week across northern Colorado. Connors said previously she was expecting more than 1,000 expo-goers would cram the rec center to peruse nearly 100 booths, interact with business leaders and even climb on fire and power company trucks.
Instead, she said roughly 500 people attended, and the event will go back to its typical September date for 2014.
“There wasn’t the usual rush after school that we normally get,” Connors said.
Typically, the event is held in September, but organizers moved it up a month this year ahead of what they thought would be a change in the school’s starting date. But school started on Monday as usual, and Connors said their wasn’t really a huge family push with it being the second day of a new school year.
“It takes a week or two to get into that new routine,” she said.
In addition to the back-to-school rush families are coping with, Connors said the plunge in attendance could likely be chalked up to an over-abundance of events on tap this week relating to the USA Pro Challenge bike race, the Poudre Trail Challenge, the Front Range Wine Festival and preparations for next weekend’s Harvest Festival.
“It’s great to have so many events in northern Colorado, but not when they all fall on the same week,” she said. It takes about a year of planning to put the expo together, and she said watching the calendar fill up for the week was concerning.
But there was a silver lining.
Connors said the businesses she heard from after the 10th annual event — presented by the Chamber and the Windsor Parks, Recreation and Culture Department — said even though there weren’t the huge numbers of people, those who did turn out got to spend extra time with the vendors and make more of a connection than is typical at busy expos.
Drenda Thoen was one of those event attendees who got a little more than free swag and candy, though that was the priority for her grandkids Malcolm, 12, and Macy, 9.
For Thoen, the goal all along was to meet leaders from sectors across Windsor and finally put a face to the catch slogans or highway billboards.
“The people are always friendly, and they make it fun,” Thoen said after spending several minutes at a local electric and plumbing vendor. “You get a chance to meet the people behind the ads.”