News Local

Petawawa Spring Showcase wraps up successful weekend

SEAN CHASE sean.chase@sunmedia.ca

PETAWAWA - Thousands flocked to this past weekend's Petawawa Showcase which organizers are hailing as one of their best trade shows yet.

The 14th annual Petawawa Home, Leisure and Consumer Showcase filled the entire Petawawa Civic Centre top to bottom, and spilled out into the parking lot.

With over 160 booths and outside displays representing 192 companies, promoter Doug Stoneman couldn't be more pleased with how the weekend turned out. It is estimated over 10,000 people attended the three-day event.

"Exhibitors who have been here a long time are saying these were some of the best crowds they've seen," said Mr. Stoneman, owner/operator of Stoneman Promotions.

The focus of the spring showcase remained home improvements, gardening, landscaping and recreation. Children were equally entertained by Little Ray's Reptiles and local magician Steven Anthony.

"People really liked the variety and quality of the exhibits this year," Mr. Stoneman noted.

While rain may have increased the numbers inside the arena on Saturday, Sunday's sunshine brought families out to the soccer field where horsemanship riding and demonstrations were offered by Vanderbrook Farm and Natural Horsemanship Center, based in Killaloe.

The centre used the venue to promote Hope Reins Equine Assisted Psychotherapy an initiative for people with physical and developmental delays, those facing addictions, dealing with grief or loss, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The centre has also specialized in helping youth at risk and children suffering with autism and spina bifida. Program director Alison Vandergragt explained that the autism program came out of Showcase two years ago. During that weekend, she was approached by over a dozen parents asking for something to address the needs of their autistic son or daughter.

"We have to thank the roots of this program from this event here," said Ms. Vandergragt. "We came here just to do pony rides but we realized there was a need for this programming."

Many of the horses who are rode by the kids and adults who attend Vanderbrook are from abusive situations. Somehow, they find trust in the youth, added Ms. Vandergragt.

"We love the way the kids are interacting with the horses," she said.

Since 1999, Mr. Stoneman has put on this trade show after he and business partner Frank Nash had learned this type of venue was badly needed for companies and small business owners who wanted to get the word out. He never imagined it would have lasted so long.

"I figured five years was the maximum lifetime but the response from local businesses has been phenomenal and I think we are doing a good job for them so it's been good for all of us,"

He has already booked several clients for the Fall Showcase scheduled for the Petawawa Civic Centre on the weekend of Sept. 14-16, 2012.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist