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Lifestyle Expo offers all new experiences

The Lifestyle Expo committee: Front row, from left: Natalie MacIsaac, Rosalyn Roy, Shauna Strickland. Back row: PAB & Area Chamber President Todd Strickland, Committee Chair René Roy, Kris Bragg. – © Nadine Osmond

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — Preparations are shaping up nicely for the first ever Lifestyle Expo, which is presented by the Port aux Basques and Area Chamber of Commerce, scheduled for Friday, May 5 through Sunday, May 7, 2023. “I think the old Business Expo was mired in the history of the old Business Expo if that makes sense,” said René Roy, who is Chair of the Expo Committee and serves on the Chamber’s Executive Board. “It was the same thing for – I don’t even know how many years since this is only my second year on the Chamber – but it had always been the same. You’d go in, you’d window shop, and you would leave. But we are trying to bring it into the 21st century, modernize it, and make it more enticing for people to come back day after day, because every day will be a different theme with different keynote speakers. We are trying to change it so that it’s more relevant for us now.” Part of modernizing the Expo includes a different daily theme designed to attract industry leaders and businesses of all sizes, local vendors, and residents from across the province. There will be keynote speakers, presentations and demonstrations, hands-on workshops and plenty of important information for visitors to take in. “The three-day theme is ‘Live, Work and Play,’ so the first day will be about what it’s like to live around here, what the Town is like, what the weather is like, what kind of services you can receive around here, just a generalization of the area,” said Roy. “The second day is about work – what it’s like to work here, what kind of opportunities are going to be arising. We’re going to have keynote speakers and presentations from – and I can confirm that Matador Mining and Fortescue (Future Industries) are going to be involved in that one – so that people are aware of the job opportunities in industry that might be developing along the entirety of the Southwest coast. The third day is going to be about what it’s like to play here, the recreation. We’re talking about fishing, the hiking trails, the mountains, the boating, hunting, and to that end we’ll have different keynote speakers and presentations about that. I’m hoping to get someone down to teach a class about fly tying, about nature.” Among the presentations will be info sessions on wills and estate planning, mental health resources, legal resources, and there will be job recruiters for anyone looking to explore new career opportunities. It’s quite a big change from what was formerly The Gateway Business Expo, so a new name was needed to go with this new format. “We’ve decided that the name didn’t reflect what we’re trying to project with this Expo so the Port aux Basques and Area Chamber of Commerce has voted unanimously to name the new Expo the ‘Lifestyle Expo’ because that’s what we are trying to impress upon people, the lifestyle of the western coast of Newfoundland.” Regardless of how many days one chooses to attend, they will be sure to witness something fresh and exciting each day. “Every day is going to be a different set of experiences. While some of the booths will remain the same throughout, you’re going to receive a different experience every time and you’re not going down there just to shop. You’re going down there to learn and find out what Port aux Basques has to offer, and not just Port aux Basques. We’ve reached out to North Sydney and Sydney Chamber to get them involved as well, Stephenville and Corner Brook have vendors who are interested in getting involved, so it’s the entirety of the West coast of Newfoundland, which is really important with all the industry leaders coming in.” Currently, the Committee is working hard behind the scenes, and there are a lot of new events and new exhibitors on the rapidly-filling schedule. “We’re trying to concentrate on getting all the I’s crossed and T’s dotted as they say, so we can put off something that’s not your standard craft sale, which is what they always were, craft sales and auto sales. We’ve got a committee formed to that effect. We definitely need volunteers. We definitely need sponsorship. We definitely need vendors, to make this work but we’re working our butts off,” said Roy. “We have four or five committee members who are working on the Expo right now and the true difficulty is actually finding time for all of us to sit down and list what we need and what we’ve accomplished in the previous week. Right now we’re meeting about every 10 days which, with only 60 days left, that’s only 6 more meetings, so that has to become much more frequent. The time is the issue, but I think once we are able to dedicate some time and have some volunteers on board to help us, then things should fall into place much more quickly and accelerate the preparations for the Expo.” With previous Expo’s being fresh in the minds of those who once attended, some still have hesitation with getting involved. “A lot of them are a bit hesitant, which I understand, because in the last few Expos before COVID struck, there wasn’t a lot of value in it for them. That’s another reason why we’ve tried to change it up, to provide more value to vendors, to businesses and to craftsmen, so they have that incentive to join the Expo,” said Roy. “Actually, when I talked to one business in Town, I explained what our vision was for this Expo and I did change that person’s mind on taking a spot or two, just because they’re excited about the new style and the new theme behind the Expo. I think there’s a lot of excitement around it. I’m personally extremely excited for the Expo, I think it’s going to go extremely well. We just have to get all the ducks in a row and start reaching out to everybody.” With the communities on the Southwest coast still reeling in the aftermath of Fiona, Roy believes it is an opportune time to hold the Expo. “It’s the reason why we decided to do it now. If we continued to wait, such as we have since COVID hit, then it would be another entire year before we were anywhere near looking at an Expo once again,” said Roy. “With the fact that Fiona hit five months ago, that presents itself as an opportunity for construction companies, electricians, anyone in the building industry is going to have an opportunity in this entire area. As a result of that, anyone in the building supply industry, tool industry, vehicle industry is going to have the same kind of spin off from Fiona because of the amount of work that has to be done, so it actually makes a lot of sense to have the Expo in the next two months because there’s a lot of corollary business that is going be coming because of Fiona. As well it’s going to try and cheer people up, which I think is just as important.” To get involved, whether as an exhibitor, sponsor or even as a volunteer, contact the Port aux Basques and Area Chamber of Commerce via its Facebook page, call them at (709) 695-3688, or send an email to: pabchamberofcommerce@gmail.com. “It’s going to be a whole different experience,” promises Roy.

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