MADAWASKA, Maine — The Top O’ Maine Trade Show lived up to its reputation over the weekend as the biggest trade show north of Bangor when more than 2,200 people and 82 vendors participated in the annual event.
The trade show not only draws tourists to the area but also serves as the year’s largest fundraising event for the St. John Valley Chamber of Commerce. Vendors came from as far as Rhode Island and Massachusetts, according to chamber director Lorraine Marston.
“When people from outside come up here they find people are polite and that we’re accommodating; they say it’s a nice change,” Marston said. “They say it is a breath of fresh air.”
More than 30 vendors have already turned in applications to participate again next year, Marston said. Among them is Sandy Caron, owner of SNC Homemade Jewelry and More.
The business has a storefront on Madawaska’s Main Street. Caron said she sells plenty of items at the trade show, but more importantly receives the exposure she needs to make her products known to the public.
Caron creates everything from homemade jewelry to T-shirts, tumblers and even popsicle sticks. This was her fifth year participating in the trade show, she said.
“It’s fun. It gets your name out there and I like to interact with other people,” Caron said. “I do quite a bit of business there.”
Not only businesses participate in the trade show but non-profit groups and community organizations as well.
Loring Job Corps set up a booth to recruit young workers ages 16-24.
“This is one of the trade shows people come to from all over The County and even from other counties,” Job Corps outreach and admissions counselor Tammy Foster said.
Trevar Dionne of St. Agatha said he visits the trade show each year with his pepere. The 17-year-old enjoyed checking out some Yamaha ATVs while his grandfather, Dennis Michaud, visited a table set up by some Amish community members. Michaud enjoys learning about beekeeping, which the Amish folks shared at the trade show, according to Dionne.
Organizers were at first concerned that beautiful summerlike weather on Saturday would keep people outdoors, but traffic flowed steadily over the weekend, Marston said.
“If we had a little less on Saturday, Sunday definitely made up for it,” Marston said. “It’s always a sure thing that we always end up with a good, heavy traffic overall for the weekend.”