By Ed Adamczyk
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — Crowds poured in Saturday to the bustling T-NT Expo, where more than 100 local businesses and community groups display their products and services in the Student Alumni Center of North Tonawanda High School.
“It’s going very well,” said Joyce Santiago, executive director of the event sponsor, the Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas. “Many of our vendors have said it’s the best show ever.”
The biennial exhibition of the enterprises that keep the cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda going, covering the day-in day-out services of the communities, has been a fixture on the local calendar for over 25 years.
Display areas, covering the school basketball court and an adjacent auditorium, present an array of the cities’ commercial businesses, ranging from heating and air conditioning services and banks, to jewelry makers, portrait photographers and hospitals.
The expo, which is free to attend and offers free parking and available food from local restaurateurs, is open today from noon to 4 p.m. It’s a labor of love, and the centerpiece in the chamber’s schedule.
“We get started in October,” Santiago said of the expo’s planning, “and there’s a lot involved. It’s an opportunity to have everyone together, there’s advertising, and putting it all in place.”
She added the expo is a showcase for the “area’s events, and economic development.”
Sprinkled among the lawn care businesses, olive oil sellers and fitness clubs are the cities’ non-profit organizations, adding to the quality of life in Tonawanda and North Tonawanda.
Vietnam Veterans Chapter 77, the Historical Society of the Tonawandas and the Buffalo Choral Arts Society, representing the Riviera Theatre’s Nickel City Opera, each have booths at the expo.
The enterprises, on which this community relies, are here, their wares and services on display. The Tonawanda News, Ivy Lea Construction, the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, co-exist on the floor of the expo, eagerly explaining what they can offer the passersby.
“It’s very nice, and we’re doing very well,” said Pam Hill, volunteer of Twin Cities Community Outreach, or TCCO, the umbrella group that houses a food pantry, a clothes closet and the local Meals on Wheels. “We’ve met people who want to volunteer, and who want to donate.”
For many attendees, this is a family outing. The booth of Reimer Heating and Air Conditioning offers a “spin the wheel” contest, as does that of the Buffalo Athletic Club. There are giveaways galore of pamphlets, brochures and marketing items offered by the exhibitors. Every visitor has a plastic bag full of mementos and information.
The event is also a snapshot of what goes on in Tonawanda and North Tonawanda. The historical society’s photos of the past mesh nicely with the present-day infrastructure, the cities’ concrete services, mortgage providers and hair care salons.
The T-NT Expo is an interesting place to be, an entertaining and informative look at what residents of the Tonawandas want and need, under one roof on one weekend. Essentially a business convocation aimed at the shopper for urban services, it is also a reminder of how deep this area is in that evocative phrase “quality of life.”