Biz Expo Tailgate Party draws many new participants


Allison McPherson, an employee at the YMCA at the Pines, serves up crab and shrimp nachos to guests attending the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo Tailgate Party at the K.E. White Center, on Thursday. The event featured about 40 business vendors, a number of them attending the expo for the first time.


By Chris Day
Mulitimedia Editor

Saturday, September 21, 2019

It wasn’t exactly Thursday night prime time football but this year’s business expo did include a football toss, team jerseys and a tailgate party.

More than 40 businesses participated in the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce’s 28th annual Business Expo Tailgate Party, held Thursday evening at the K.E. White Graduate Center.

“It was a great event,” said Chamber President Holly Staples. “We look forward to building on it in the future.”

As the event title implies, the theme for the evening was football. Booths of participating vendors were manned by employees sporting the orange, green and blue jerseys of their favorite teams. Many of the vendors have taken part in the annual expo in previous years. However, at least 14 were attending the event for the first time.

RCE Theaters, which is based in Roanoke Rapids and took over the former Gateway Cinemas in February 2018, was one of the expo’s rookies. Manning the RCE Theaters booth was theater manager Travis Moore and his wife Amanda Major.

Over the last year RCE Theaters has completed extensive renovations to the theater, including all new seating and restrooms. The local cinema also has hosted an opening night event for last year’s blockbuster “Black Panther,” and last October held a special late night showing of the cult classic, “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Moore had blockbuster news Thursday. The theater is expanding to add two new theaters, each with enough room to hold 50 people. The company has taken over an adjacent beauty supply store, which is now closed, and will use that space to expand, Moore said.

Another first-time expo participant was Just Wings, which opened about a month ago at 1843 W. Ehringhaus Street at Port Elizabeth Center, said owner Ivory Ortiz.

Just Wings received a warm reception, as Ortiz said she was “struggling” to keep up with the wings and other food samples guests were eating.

“A lot of people are loving it and coming back for more,” Ortiz said.

Another first-time participant was Chuck Hall, owner of Uncle Chuck’s Soul Food Cafe, located at 407 S. Griffin Street. To Hall, the expo demonstrated the effectiveness of word-of-mouth advertising.

“I’m surprised by how many people already knew about it,” he said, referring to his business.

Photographer Gene Tick also was attending the expo for the first time. Joined by his associate photographer Phil Jones, Tick was representing his company, Gene Tick Photography, which specializes in commercial photography.

“We’re the business photographers,” Tick said.

His company offers a variety of photography and videography services, including portraits and corporate projects. Tick’s company shot photos, for example, of the announcement ceremony for Telephonics’ expansion in August.

A repeat expo participant was L.A.P. Benefits and Services, which was represented by Lawrence Poole and Kenneth Jones.

Poole said the expo is good exposure for the insurance company, which specializes in mortgage protection, life insurance and other services.

“We’ve got it all, just give us a call,” Poole said.

In one corner of the K.E. White Center, Pepsi Bottling Ventures hosted a football toss, a game of skill that required participants to toss a football through different-sized holes in a board. Guests bought tickets to play and the first-place prize included two VIP tickets to an upcoming NFL game between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.

The second-place winner received four tickets to today’s East Carolina vs. William and Mary game in Greenville, plus designer sunglasses. The third-place winner received guest tickets to the Nov. 9 home football game between Elizabeth City State University and Bowie State, plus additional tickets to games at Camden County and Northeastern high schools.

Meanwhile, six participating eateries held a Tailgate Food Challenge and the winner, according to Staples, was The Flour Girls Bakery. Also participating were Captain D’s Seafood, Just Wings, Plaza Azteca, Uncle Chuck’s and the YMCA at The Pines.

Awards also were presented to the top business booths. According to Staples, the Best New Exhibitor award went to The Soundside Group Inc. The award for Best Use of Theme was presented to B&M Contractors and Best Overall booth went to Pepsi.