Organizers cancel Expo

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RUMFORD – An annual event that many believe brought people and business into the River Valley has been canceled for this year.

The River Valley Expo would have had its fourth year this fall, but the committee that organizes the event voted Tuesday morning to take a year off.

“It was a hard decision,” Rosie Bradley said Tuesday afternoon. She’s director of the River Valley Growth Council and was co-chairwoman of the two-day event for the past three years. “We’re not going away, just taking a year off.”

The event, held at Mountain Valley High School, drew between 2,000 and 3,000 people each year with its nearly 150 business, nonprofit, municipal and other booths.

Bradley and Cheryl Dickson, president of the River Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the number of volunteers dropped as has the cash-giving sponsors.

Bradley said at least $6,000 is needed to cover costs associated with holding the event.

The Expo committee ended last autumn’s event in the black, having about $2,000 to carry over. Bradley said that money will be used to start up the planning for a return of the Expo in 2007.

Dickson said the committee will start meeting again in September, then begin specific planning and organization for the 2007 event in January.

“We need a lot more volunteers,” said Bradley. About 15 people helped during the first Expo in 2003. That number has dwindled to about five, she said.

The Expo has never had difficulty filling the booths. She said 150 booths were filled last year with several other businesses on a waiting list.

“Hopefully, not having the Expo this year will open everyone’s eyes. Maybe people will volunteer in 2007,” said Dickson

Bradley said the group didn’t want to compromise the event by scaling it down.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge believes the Expo’s cancellation is unfortunate, particularly in light of the town’s efforts at boosting the economy and revitalizing the downtown area.

“The Expo is a great economic tool to show off businesses in the valley,” he said.

Bradley said the committee will consider lowering the sponsorship amounts, which range from $500 to $3,000, and look at the possibility of charging an admission fee as similar shows do.

“If we miss one year, maybe the people in the valley will appreciate the Expo,” said Bradley.

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