By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Sunny skies and 50-degree temperatures came just in time for people to escape cabin fever and attend the 32nd Annual Bristol Home & Business Expo last weekend.
Sponsored by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Jenks Productions, Inc. and presented by Xfinity, the expo kicked off last Saturday and continued through Sunday at Bristol Eastern High School.
A half an hour before the expo officially began last Saturday, over 100 people were waiting at the door to check out a variety of vendors that ranged from home improvement businesses to technology to energy companies.
“The weather was absolutely on our side,” said Cindy Scoville, president and CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce.
Scoville said the chamber was very pleased with turnout of vendors this year.
“We’re very happy with the amount of local vendors, and some [vendors] outside of the community, and people in the community who have supported us year after year,” said Scoville. “It says a lot about what we do for the community and for businesses.”
Serving Bristol and the surrounding area for nearly 80 years, Crown Oil, which is now a division of Mirabito Energy Products, returned to the expo again to speak face-to-face with homeowners about heating oil delivery and cooling needs.
“It definitely gives us exposure. It gives us an opportunity to meet people in an environment where they’re comfortable,” said Mirabito’s Central Connecticut’s Regional Manager, Steve Salvatore.
For over 20 years now, Curt Carlson Builders has been a vendor at the expo, where the Bristol-based construction company receives anywhere from a dozen to 25 leads from homeowners seeking additions, kitchen/bath remodeling or other services.
“I get to meet people face-to-face. Once you talk to the customer, you start to develop a bond,” said business owner Curt Carlson. “I love the show because it’s local. I see people here every year again and again.”
This year, the expo also brought a larger craft fair, which featured handmade crochet items, jewelry, soaps, homemade jams, and more.
New to the craft area was Sissy’s Unique Boutique, a home-based business in Bristol. Based on two sisters who love to craft and crochet, Sissy’s Unique Boutique featured a variety of items for sale—from baby clothes to hats to blankets.
For boutique owner Georgina Grice, crocheting was just a fun hobby she began at just nine years old before turning it into a business four years ago.
“It’s a hobby that turned into a business,” said Grice, a lifelong Bristol resident.
Throughout the day, expo-goers also had a chance to meet with different civic groups and local organizations, including those in the health industry, such as Wheeler Clinic and Bristol Hospital.
Outside Bristol Eastern stood Bristol Hospital’s ambulance truck, which children and families were able to explore. Each individual who stopped by the truck also received a “File of Life”—a medical identification card that helps first responders by providing an accurate medical history, list of medications, existing conditions and allergies.
“If they’re unable to speak or if they’re unconscious, and we need medical information about them, it helps us to better serve our community,” said EMT Bob Varasconi. “We want to help promote Bristol Hospital EMS, and let people know that we’re here for them if they need us.”
Besides free door prize drawings and children’s activities, expo entertainment also included spiritual psychic medium Karen Kilmartin, a Torrington native who best known for her down-to-earth attitude and compassion. Channeling spirits since age two, Kilmartin, communicated with deceased loved ones of audience members for a group intensive reading.
“My hope in what I do, and why I do what I do, is to give people peace,” Kilmartin told audience members at the expo.