GENOA – April Lucas might have moved only a few miles away, but the new Sycamore resident and Genoa native never misses a chance to support her hometown.
She’s been to almost every Genoa Home and Business Expo since it began 11 years ago, and she still loves seeing all of her old friends and neighbors at the annual community event.
“Everyone here is family,” she said. “I like Genoa’s small-town feeling. My kids and I like the prizes, and we like to learn about new businesses. It’s a nice family outing that we all look forward to.”
About 1,000 vendors and visitors packed the hallways and gymnasium Saturday at Genoa-Kingston High School for the expo, which is sponsored by the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce. Guests were able to mingle with local merchants and nonprofits, and win prizes, as well. About 50 businesses, 10 nonprofits and 10 restaurants set up shop for the free, day-long event.
Cortney Strohacker, the chamber’s executive director, said what makes the event special is how unique the community is, and because everyone is so supportive of the local businesses and each other.
“We all get to be together under one roof in one day,” she said. “This is great for residents who may not know about all of the businesses that exist in Genoa, and great for potential residents to see what we have to offer. We want to put together a taste of Genoa, and this is a good way to do something with the kids.”
Genoa Mayor Mark Vicary was looking forward to socializing with the residents and business owners. He said he enjoys the event because it brings the community together.
“We want people to shop local and build relationships with the vendors, and hopefully remember them the next time they need something,” he said. “As Genoa continues to grow, we’ll see the businesses grow and the Expo grow. This has always been a popular event.”
Mike Miller and his son, Harrison, 12, were having fun playing with the Genoa Fitness Center’s “barbell.” Miller, who’s lived in Genoa for several years, said he and his family come to the expo every year.
“We’re a part of the community, so we want to support the chamber,” he said. “When you invest in your community, good things happen. We enjoy coming here, we know a lot of people, and it’s nice to see everybody.”
Although the Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Museum is near downtown Genoa, volunteer Sherry Frankenbach said a lot of residents still don’t know about it. This was the first time the museum had a booth at the expo.
“So many people in Genoa don’t realize what a gem the museum is,” she said. “We preserve Genoa’s history. We have a lot of belongings from Genoa’s founding families. People would be amazed at the sheer amount of things we have.”