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Showcase shares community’s wares

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More than 1,200 attend Saturday

By Lisa King

By 1 p.m. Saturday, more than 900 people had already flocked to the Community Showcase event at Shelby County High School's Mike Casey Gymnasium.

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Despite the perfect spring-like temperatures, more than 1,200 people would stop by the annual event, hosted by the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce.

"The weather is just gorgeous, and we have had a huge influx of people coming in," said Jeff Kutzner, clinic administrator for Mercy Medical, who had a booth set up outside in front of the school.

Inside, booths lined the perimeter of the gym, choirs were singing, there was a bounce house filled with squealing, laughing children and Ruritan Club members and firefighters were selling concessions, all contributing to an atmosphere that kept visitors happy and interested.

Shelby County Farm Bureau agent Josh Hurt said his group had collected 250 non-perishable food items for Operation Care’s food bank.

“People were great, we had the bulk of our visitors by noon,” he said.

The focus of the event, built around the chamber's iShop Shelby slogan, was to give people the opportunity both to keep track of what businesses are doing and what they offer the community.

The event included 53 booths composed of a wide variety of local businesses and organizations in the gym, encompassing everything from police and fire agencies to dentists, exterminators, insurance companies and agricultural businesses, such as Mulberry Orchard.

"We've had a really good crowd; this is a really good opportunity for us to get the word out about our products and what we do," said Amanda Gajdzik, co-owner of Mulberry Orchard along with her husband, Matt.

She added that most people were asking her about how she thought the fruit crops would fare this year.

"Apples will probably be all right; they are hardier," she said. "Everyone's ready for peaches, but we'll just have to wait and see that about them."

Shelby County Parks Director Shawn Pickens said several people had stopped to ask him about the parks department’s newest addition.

"People are really interested in Shelby Trails, our master plan, how many miles of riding trails we have, and especially how long before we will have the park cleaned up for riding," he said, adding that crews are currently cleaning storm debris from trails used for horseback riding.

Parents were also proactive in having their children photographed and other information gathered on them, said Jason Rice and Eric Hettinger, detectives with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

"We have done a lot of child I.D.s, for children of all ages," said Rice, adding that the average age was around 10. Another law enforcement booth, staffed by the Shelbyville Police Department, had a lot of people stop by, said officer Kelly Cable.

"We have had a good crowd; a lot of people have stopped to say how much they appreciate what we do and to share concerns they have with us," Cable said. "This is a good opportunity for un to get that kind of feedback from the public."

Shelby County Public Schools Public Relations Officer Ryan Allen said the same at his booth.

"People have coming by talking about how pleased they are with our Strategic Leadership Plan," he said, glancing over to the other side of the gym, where Stephanie Stevens was leading the Clear Creek Choir in singing.

The choir was one of several different school groups that provided entertainment at the event.