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April 28, 2008

 

Biz showcase draws regulars

About 1,500 attend 24th annual event that promotes local businesses

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Joe McIntyre/staff photographer   
Garry Grant of Cortland steps up to bat for physical therapist Wendy Kolodziejczyk at Cortland Regional Medical Center’s booth at the 2008 Business Showcase Saturday at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex. Kolodziejczyk was demonstrating an interactive video game used as a rehab treatment tool at the hospital.

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By IDA M. PEASE
Staff Reporter
ipease@cortlandstandard.net

CORTLANDVILLE — For many people, the Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase has become a habit. Whether rainy, cold, sunny or warm, people attend the showcase, now held in the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex in Cortlandville.
One hundred businesses and nonprofit organizations participated and eight recreational organizations also were set up separately in the ice arena at the center.
Lori Jacobs and her son Austin Lites, 10, were two who make it a tradition to come to the chamber event, which was held Saturday. She said she comes every year. 
“I like the games and to see all the cool stuff people put up,” Austin said.
Jacobs works for a pediatrician and said she likes to look at health care provider and doctor booths.
“It’s nice to see them face to face,” she said.
Jacobs visited the showcase twice on Saturday and won a fire extinguisher during her first visit.
Austin picked up some literature on working out safely from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County booth, adding to an already loaded plastic bag. He said some of the things he picked up included stress balls, a black panther mascot from the Tompkins Cortland Community College booth and balloons.
Garry VanGorder, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said this year about 1,500 to 1,700 attended the 24th annual showcase. The morning was brisk, he said, but later in the afternoon the crowd dwindled. Last year about 2,000 people attended, he said. He said the hot weather may have deterred people from getting out during the afternoon.
VanGorder said Friday night was well attended, with about 750 guests for the preview party, which included food and drink, a silent auction that benefited the United Way and the Chamber of Commerce.
Booths were judged Friday night and the J.M. Murray Employment Connection won for the best nonprofit group.
Bangles, Bags & Bling won the best booth award for small businesses (fewer than 35 employees) and Greek Peak Ski Resort/Hope Lake Lodge won for best booth among large businesses. The Employment Connection and Bangles, Bags and Bling won last year as well.
Family entertainment was a key feature at the showcase.
Austin had also seen the birds of prey exhibit at the Tompkins Trust Co. booth. The bank had several trees decorated with cloth birds later in the day, but before 2 p.m. had an owl, peregrine falcon and red-tailed hawk.
Kathy Cotterill, business development officer at the bank, said people were asking a lot of questions about the birds. “It was an educational thing,” she said.
“I thought they were really cool. I just like looking at them,” Austin said.
People stood in line in front of Cortland Regional Medical Center’s booth. The big attraction there was the big screen television, donated by Aaron’s on Route 281 in Cortlandville, and Wii games, virtual games of tennis, baseball, bowling golf and boxing.
The hospital uses the video game system for physical therapy.
“We’ve had huge success with it,” said Wendy Kolodziejczyk, director of physical rehabilitation services, explaining the game has been used for rehabilitation for two months now.
She said older patients recuperating from strokes and hip surgery take some time to learn it, but they are catching on.
“A young cerebral palsy patient loves to come to therapy now,” she said.
For Taylar Williams, 10, the Wii was a big attraction while her mother worked at the booth for Alliance Bank. Besides playing tennis against the Wii, Taylar ate food and received free items, including a hula hoop she was toting around.
But her favorite thing about the day was “hanging out with Delaney (Root).” Likewise, for Delaney, also 10, her favorite thing was “hanging out with Taylar.”
Delaney’s mother, Melissa Root, was showing off her new business, Basket Bistro, a business on the corner of routes 281 and 41 that prepares gift baskets. Sharon and Kent Klanderman said they have come to the showcase for years.
Kent Klanderman said the showcase gives him ideas and that he likes seeing new home products. Sharon Klanderman said for two or three years in a row they had won a door prize, but this year they did not.
“It’s fun,” she said of the showcase. “You see a lot of people that you know.”
Across the hall from the showcase booths, the Sports and Rec Expo attracted children and adults who were practicing their archery skills, watching karate, dance, and skateboarding demonstrations, and picking up hula hoops NYSEG was making.