PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — As she has every year since it started, Kristy King of Caribou got up early on the first day of the Fall and Winter Expo, grabbed some friends and tried to be one of the first few dozen people through the door.
“I am not a trade show or craft fair or health fair person at all,” King said early Saturday afternoon. “But I absolutely love this expo. I’m kind of strange. I like fall and winter much better than I do summer, and to me, this is the place to come to kind of get myself geared up for the start of snow season.”
King was just one of an estimated 600 people who flocked to the fourth annual event by 11 a.m. Saturday, just an hour after the doors at The Forum officially opened. The expo is co-sponsored by WAGM-TV and the Northern Maine Community College Foundation.
Officials with the NMCC Foundation said Saturday that people began to line up for the 10 a.m. opening by 9:30 a.m. When they walked through the doors, they were treated to a wide variety of vendors and products, everything from pampering items and political candidates to snowmobiles and solar panels.
More than 45 exhibitors were taking part in the two-day event, displaying alternative energy and technology products and services, health and wellness tips and products, and winter sports and recreation gear. Businesses such as Roger’s Sports Center, Third Eye Global, Gene’s Electronics and Stellar Herbals had booths at the expo, as did Houlton Tire Co., The Aroostook Medical Center, Cary Medical Center and The County Stove Shop. More than $15,000 in prizes are up for grabs this year, the largest number and highest value of prizes for giveaways ever featured, according to event organizers.
Children squealed as they jumped in the bounce house, and women crowded into a corner to watch a Zumba dance demonstration. Youngsters tested their hockey skills at Aroostook Youth Hockey’s area, which offered a chance to hit pucks into a goal.
With elections just around the corner, the event featured a voter registration booth. On Oct. 26, Leaders Encouraging Aroostook Development and WAGM will co-host a northern Maine gubernatorial debate at the Presque Isle Middle School auditorium beginning at 7 p.m. Expo attendees submitted written questions to the can-didates at the voter registration booth.
The event also featured information and displays about alternative heating products, including wood pellet, coal and biomass burning technology, as well as solar and wind energy.
Marie Deboise of Woodstock, New Brunswick, was attending for the first time. She said she came to the expo on the advice of a friend.
“She and her husband came last year and her husband ended up getting a great deal on a snowmobile trailer,” Deboise said. “My husband is hoping to get a similar deal.”
Attendees also were excited about the chance to win door prizes, including $1,800 for groceries, $300 for utilities and 300 gallons of heating oil.
Stacey McLaine of Presque Isle also was at the event for the first time, showing up to support her friends who are NMCC nursing students and medical assisting students. The students were holding an educational health fair featuring interactive displays on topics concerning well-being in the winter months. McLaine walked out of the building with some home decor items and brochures from various businesses and organizations.
“I thought it was pretty neat,” she said. “This is something I’d come back to. I saw vendors in there that I didn’t even know existed, so it was good to see them and look at some of the products they offer.”