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Business Expo coming March 28

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(3/20) For the past few weeks, Diana Stull’s display for the 4th Annual Thurmont Restaurant and Business Expo has been taking shape above her garage. The display’s prominent feature will be a five-foot-tall nutcracker soldier dressed in red, white and blue.

“I’m a visual person,” Stull, who owned The Beauty Parlor in Thurmont, said. “I have to set it up and see what it’s going to look like before the show.”

The expo, free to the public, will be in the two gymnasiums at Catoctin High School on Friday, March 28 from 6-8:30 p.m. Approximately 80 Thurmont businesses have already signed up for booths at the expo, though by the time of the show, the number will be close to 100. Last year, more than 1,600 people attended.

“I’ve been told that there are county chambers of commerce that don’t get that kind of attendance and participation,” said Thurmont Main Street Manager Vickie Grinder.

This year’s expo will feature an Americana theme and will welcome visitors with an archway made of red, white and balloons. There will also be entertainment for the first time: ESP Productions will perform dance numbers and Holly Rife and Norman Gibat will play music by American composers.

Always popular at the expo are the Thurmont restaurants that give away thousands of dollars in free food. Already committed for this year are the Cozy, Mountain Gate, Shamrock, Kountry Kitchen, Rube’s Crab Shack and Cool Beans.

“We just like taking some of our best items up there,” said Pat Ridenour with Thurmont Kountry Kitchen.

She has attended two of the three previous expos and only missed last year’s because of illness. She sees the expo as a way to let people know how good her food is. This year, she said she planning to offer free chicken salad and coleslaw.

“We did pick up a lot of new customers two years ago when we were there,” Ridenour said.

Stull said, “It’s great exposure, a great way to get our name out.”

Grinder said that the town is lucky that its restaurants are so willing to participate in the expo. In fact, businesses of all sorts set up displays from the simple to elaborate and offer everything from postcards to back massages.

“The main reason that comes to mind for the expo’s success is that the residents of Thurmont have their minds open and do believe in buying local and supporting local businesses,” Grinder said.

She also noted that the timing for the expo, at the end of March, works out well.

“I think people are tired of winter by then,” Grinder commented. “It’s a coming out for them.” 

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