LINCOLN, Maine — Seven-year-old Kortnie Trott likes puppies, but that wasn’t the only reason she had her face painted like one at the Lincoln Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce Expo on Saturday.
“She’s allergic, so I can’t have any” dogs, Trott said, frowning, as she looked at her mother, Jaccie Trott, 31. The elder Trott smiled patiently.
The Trott family likes the Expo, Jaccie Trott said.
“There could be a lot of new businesses in town,” she said, “and unless we come here, we don’t know what they have to offer.”
That’s why the Chamber holds the annual expo: to give new and older Lincoln Lakes region business, community and social service operators a chance to meet new patrons and renew ties to regular customers and to their fellow entrepreneurs, said Amanda Dunn, the Chamber’s vice president.
Held at Mattanawcook Academy, the daylong event is the Chamber’s largest annual fundraiser. On Saturday it drew more than 600 people as well as about 50 vendors — maximum capacity for the academy gym, cafeteria and front hallways, Dunn said.
“It’s a really good turnout,” she said, “especially considering what we have been through this year.”
A funding shortage earlier this year imperiled the Chamber, which serves businesses in the nearly 20 towns of the Lincoln Lakes region. The Chamber has bounced back, but seeks more businesspeople to join and serve on its board of directors, Dunn said.
The mood among the businesses seemed relaxed, if not upbeat. Several said business has at least bottomed out, if not begun rebounding from the recession during the past year. At least six businesses have opened in the region in the last year. The number of closures was not available.
“It was busy here today,” said Peter McPhail of ERA McPhail Realty of Lincoln, one of the area’s larger real estate agencies. “So far our spring has been about as good as last year’s.”
ERA McPhail’s home sales in Lincoln have climbed about 10 percent over the first quarter of 2009, while the rest of the region’s first-quarter sales have matched last year’s, said Philip McPhail II, Peter’s brother.
The company also has recently upgraded its software to allow for immediate e-mail or telephone responses to inquiries made via its Web site, the brothers said.
Across the gym, Jato Highlands Golf Course General Manager Eric Dubay chatted amicably with Green Valley Golf Course owner Michael Clendenning at their two adjoining booths. With Jato at 175 Town Farm Road in Lincoln and Green Valley off Route 2 in Enfield, they are the region’s only golf courses.
“We don’t really consider ourselves competitors because we offer two very different [golfing] experiences,” Clendenning said.
Green Valley’s 18-hole course is fairly flat and wide, while Jato’s is largely on hillsides and somewhat narrower. Jato’s greens, fairways and roughs are also abundantly thick. Green Valley’s play quicker.
Both will share the Lincoln Lakes Chamber of Commerce golf tournament on Labor Day weekend with each course handling the tournament on successive days, Dubay said. The event will feature a $2,000 purse.
Michelle Russell, director of the Lincoln KidCare America After-School Mentoring Program, used the free face-painting to take in close to $100 in contributions to her agency and to sound out parents on what they would like her developing summer programming to feature.
She served about 100 people.