Beckley, WV – (WWNR) – Thousands of people came out to the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center over the weekend for the 2023 Southern Communications Women’s Expo. This was the 25th anniversary of the event billed as the largest vendor show in Southern West Virginia. Those who were there from the beginning say they couldn’t imagine it becoming as big as it has.
“It was, you know, maybe an idea that you didn’t know if it was gonna make it or not.” said Southern Communications Account Executive Jim Sassak. “And 25 years later, it’s just been blooming, busting out. Just fantastic.”
“Everyone that’s help put it together, with the radio station team for one thing. People finding out about it through other vendors, and it just takes off from there. One vendor tells somebody else, and it continues to grow, and the vendors who’ve been successful in selling their products here, they keep coming back for more and it’s turned out to be very, very good.”
General Manager Beth Reger said “The Southern Communications staff has worked so hard to pull this off and they’ve done an amazing job.”
“The crowd is non-stop, there’s no parking, the line is – they just keep coming, it’s amazing. Look around at all the people here.”
This year’s Expo had more than 150 vendors, on both the arena floor and the upstairs conference rooms. Businesses on hand included healthcare, education, food, tourism, home decor, and Jan Care Ambulance with its ever popular popcorn machine.
The event was made possible through a number of sponsors, including Optimum.
We’ve been involved for years now.” said Bethany Simmons, Optimum Market Engagement Specialist. “Of course we had a different name at the time, we were Suddenlink. We switched to Optimum just last year. We provide award winning internet, cable tv, home phone and mobile phone. We’ve got an office in Beckley and a new office coming in Princeton very soon. We’re excited to be back at the Expo this year. This is the place to be, obviously. Thousands of people through these doors. We’re getting a chance to interact with customers and talk to folks about new services to keep you connected.”
In addition to the vendors, there were appearances by the Easter Bunny, Spiderman, Elsa from Frozen and the 93.5 FM Buzz Bee. There was also an appearance by Kamron Lawson, who’s headed to Hollywood to compete in American Idol.
To celebrate the Expo’s 25th Anniversary, attendees could register to spin the Wheel Of Winning to win cash and other prizes.
“Sponsored by Beckley Auto Mall and you can win up to $2,500 worth of cash” said Reger. “And the Greenbrier also gave us a spa package which someone’s already won. And Little General’s given us gas cards and stuff, we’ve got all kinds of great items.”
With another Women’s Expo in the books, organizers will soon begin work on planning next year’s event. Jim Sassak says they won’t have much time to rest on their laurels.
“It seems like it never ends during the whole course of the year. People ask ‘When is the Expo? Where can I get information about it?’ So it’s just a continual process, and the success that we’ve had – it doesn’t wait until three months before the show. It’s pretty much a year round venture.”