The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

February 17, 2007

12th Women’s Expo called ‘biggest yet’

93 vendors, estimated thousands of visitors attend first day

Beckley resident Anne Folger beamed Saturday as she strolled the Raleigh County Armory with a bag of free items and prizes.

“This is the best expo I’ve seen, and I’ve been to four,” she said. “It’s very organized. ... You get a lot of general information about what’s available in Beckley and the surrounding areas.”

The 12th annual Southern West Virginia Women’s Expo kicked off Saturday, and despite cold, snowy weather, the armory was packed with visitors and vendors eager to show them what services they can provide. The event was sponsored by Power Country 105.9 FM and Suddenlink Communications.

Gelilah Barksdale, coordinator for non-traditional radio revenue for Southern Communications, parent company of 105.9, said the expo was the biggest one yet with 93 vendors attending — and a packed house. Vendors represented a myriad of industries, including health care, higher education, government, food and cosmetics.

“Oh, we’ve had a lot (of people)!” she exclaimed. “I don’t know. We’ve had several thousand, I would say. Everyone enjoys this.”

Prizes are a big attraction at the expo, with 105.9 giving away vacations and several vendors giving away door prizes, Barksdale said.

However, the event is one she believes is fun with a purpose. Vendors come from not only West Virginia, but also North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Many are there to show women of southern West Virginia employment and educational opportunities.

“It’s a recreational, educational and informational show,” she said.

Happy Hearts and Open Arms Day Care in Ansted provided free child care to those attending, Barksdale said. The children were with certified day care professionals, safe and entertained. Free parking was provided by Mountain State University.

Folger was enjoying an outing with her daughter, Linda Pettit of Oak Hill, at the expo. Both women said they not only had fun, but they believed the experience was valuable because of the information about services and educational opportunities. Pettit was pleased that several higher education institutions were represented.

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