Uniquely Whidbey Biz Expo canceled for this year

A long tradition on Whidbey Island has come to an end -- at least for this year.

The Island County Economic Development Council had canceled the Uniquely Whidbey Biz Expo that was slated to take place Oct. 10 and 11 at Coupeville High School.

The event annually drew 3,000 to 3,500 people who perused booths for information on businesses, according to the EDC Web site.

Sharon Hart, executive director of the EDC, said there was "just not enough" interest to justify a trade fair this year.

"I didn't want to lower the standard of the fair," she said Tuesday. "It's the economic times we're in. People are struggling."

Last year's Uniquely Whidbey Biz Expo attracted 131 participants who paid an average of $150 per booth, according to Hart. This year only 75 businesses had committed to participate.

The exhibition of Whidbey Island businesses dates back to 1991 when it was initiated by the Port of South Whidbey, which staged it at South Whidbey High School. A few years later, under the sponsorship of the Island County Economic Development Council, it moved to the centrally located Coupeville site.

This year, the Port of South Whidbey stopped its involvement in the island-wide Biz Expo and returned to its roots, staging a South Whidbey-only event this spring at the Island County Fairgrounds. Business participate was scant.

Hart acknowledged that the return of the South Whidbey fair probably hurt the island-wide event in Coupeville.

"It's silly to divide up the island," she said. "I don't know if businesses can handle two shows. We've got to stick together."

For additional information, contact the Island County EDC at 360-678-6889, or toll-free at 888-506-7999.

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