When 7-year-old Jimmy Santos bought a raffle ticket using his own money at the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural FoCo Expo, he knew winning the three-night, three-day Walt Disney World vacation for four was a long shot.
With thousands of attendees vying for four raffle items Tuesday night, he was up against many locals, most of whom had more money and more winning opportunities.
But Jimmy got lucky.
The look on his face when the DJ announced his name as the Disney raffle winner highlighted the night, said Tony Peters, the Chamber’s vice president of community development, who helped organize the event.
The expo, which was held at the Forsyth Conference Center at Lanier Technical College in partnership with the Forsyth County News, offered exhibitors and attendees an opportunity to network, collaborate, promote and learn about local businesses while sipping on libations and tasting various food truck creations.
The event, which showcased nearly 70 businesses, also reunited friends, the happy words, ‘you decided to come,’ audible on more than one occasion.
“I think this is great that the [Chamber] puts this on,” said Megan Fantroy, a resident perusing the booths with two of her friends. “The food outside smells great, and we all work together so we just decided to come out.”
The businesses, too, enjoyed the opportunity to connect with one another, as well as potential consumers.
“When the Chamber of Commerce told us about [the expo], I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet members of the community that we hadn’t already met,” said Abby Freeman, marketing director for local pet store Rucker Pet. “You have your customer base and it’s great to expand it when you put on your own events, but when someone else puts on an event it’s their customer base, so you get to meet those people and see if you can add them to yours.”
Peggy Morrow, of local family practice Morrow Family Medicine, said the expo was also a way to meet people in person.
“The ‘family’ word was what brought me to this expo because it was a good fit for us,” she said. “It’s been really fun when people walk by and I say, ‘We’re Morrow Family Medicine,’ and they say, ‘Oh that’s my doctor, I go there.’
“[Expos] are really not a great market for us, but because this was a family event it’s perfect, and we have our BYOT [initiative] within the schools and we’re a family medicine practice.”
Vice President of BB&T Bank Andrew Bell said the expo’s success was a testament to the county’s growth.
“[It] was an electric night for our community,” he said. “You could overhear great conversations, laughter and the Forsyth County business sector and community members coming together, which was the desired outcome of the event. If this event was an indication of the community climate to come, the future of Forsyth County is very bright.”