When Hurricane Harvey destroyed the Paws and Taws Convention Center it forced the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce to move it’s 21st Annual Business Expo to a new location in April of 2018. It also marked the beginning of major expansion for that event.
“Two thousand people [attended the expo] last year,” one of the key organizers of the event, Robert Mitchell, said about the event that had previously seen attendance only in the hundreds of people. “Being outside now, it’s a little bit easier access for people as long as the weather holds out.”
The outside location of the Aransas County Navigation District Festival Grounds will be home to the expo for the second straight year Thursday. Not only is a record crowd expected, there’s a record number of businesses and organizations taking part. There will be 79 information booths set up compared to the previous record, set last year, of 57. Mitchell says the participation in the expo falls right in line with the local economy that’s still recovering following Hurricane Harvey.
“We’ve reopened 93-percent of the businesses in town right now,” Mitchell said. “People are excited about Rockport coming back. It feels good. It just looks like Rockport used to look.”
The Rockport Center for the Arts is one of the 79 businesses and organizations that will have a booth at this year’s expo in hopes of getting more people to become members and take advantage of the center’s programs for adults and children.
“We try to promote our business, give people information, and educate them about what we do here,” coordinator for the Art Center Market Teresa Fajardo Lambert said.
Fajardo Lambert will help man the art center’s booth, and she’s hopeful that the expo will receive a good turnout.
“I just wanted to say to everyone, come in and visit us tomorrow,” she said. “Our booth is number nine, and we hope to see you.”
Mitchell hopes for a turnout worthy of the expo’s record books.
“We’re hoping for at least 2,000… 2,500 this year maybe more,” he said. “It’s just going to be a fun three hours.”
The expo’s hours of operation are from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Thursday at the Aransas County Navigation District Festival Grounds. Admission is free, but if you want refreshments like food from the food trucks that will be on hand, bring money.