By Don Bolding
Killeen Daily Herald
By midafternoon Thursday, Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce officials estimated that 300 people had visited the 2008 Showcase at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, with a surge of visitors still expected after the workday ended.
The 10th annual Showcase hosted more than 70 exhibitors in 97 booths with more special events than ever before. These included free immunizations by the Bell County Health Department, demonstrations by the Shoemaker High School robotics team, demonstrations of fuel cells for computers by the Operational Test Command at Fort Hood, dance performances by the Multi-Ethnic Cultural Arts Association, and a blood drive by Carter Blood Care.
Killeen Power Sports donated a 2008 Suzuki GS500F motorcycle for a drawing.
Exhibitors included not only businesses demonstrating their goods and services but also a variety of nonprofit agencies and even churches.
"This is one of the greatest networking events I've ever seen," said Ray Faught, publisher of The Coffee News. "There's a good atmosphere, and it's pleasant and easy to trade information with a wide variety of people. It's been really worth the time."
The Students in Free Enterprise Team of Central Texas College was getting the word out about its "mystery shopper" program, one of its many public service projects. Team president Chastity Clemons said many business owners were unaware that the service was available free of charge and promised to call.
"Mystery shoppers" pose as customers of a business to rate customer service and other aspects of the business-customer relationship for top management.
Randy McCauley originally bought a booth for his own Randy McCauley Designs but donated it to the American Advertising Federation-Central Texas, partly to promote the organization's annual Summer Seminar on Aug. 22. He also said many advertising customers were unaware that the organization is the former Central Texas Ad League, which was always affiliated with the national organization.
Rickie Autry, staffing a voter registration booth with Sharon Long, Bell County tax assessor-collector, said about 10 people had added themselves to the voter rolls during the day, including one whose paperwork had gone awry earlier and had to re-register.
Terri Keese, owner with her husband of Spectrum Printing, said she thought daytime traffic had definitely increased over last year.
"I missed one year, but we always make it a point to be here," she said.
The Showcase, originally an event for GKCC members only, moved from a hotel to the Civic and Conference Center after public interest influenced organizers to open it to the public.
Contact Don Bolding at email@example.com or (254) 501-7557.