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Food Expo brings good crowds, good will, good vibrations.

What were the Beach Boys, Juice Newton, Johnny Bench, the Charlie Daniels Band, Kentucky Governor John Brown and his wife, Phyllis George, all doing in tiny Maysville, Ky., last October? Believe it or not, they were part of a trade and entertainment exposition organized and sponsored by an independent grocer. More than 45,000 people attended the four-day event.

"We had heard of food fairs put on by grocers but we wanted our first exposition to be more than just a few booths with brokers passing out samples of food," says Ken Barbour, who in conjunction with his father, Clyde, planned the Maysville Expo. They also operate four stores doing business as Clyde's Super Valu. "We wanted to show people that Maysville could have just as much excitement as Cincinnati, Lexington or other nearby large cities."

"We thought an exposition could also help the economy in the area," Barbour says. "Not enough people know what is manufactured and grown here. At the expo, they could see what their neighbors do and support them through the year."

A five-acre tobacco warehouse that the Barbours own was a natural place to stage the event. Since the warehouse is neither heated nor air-conditioned, the temperate month of October was chosen. The father and son team started contacting area businessmen in June to see if they would be interested in having booths.

More than 400 businesses said, "yes." From boat dealers to nurseries, car dealers to golf cart manufacturers, the entire range of businesses in the Maysville area was represented. About 100 booths housed food manufacturers and brokers, including Super Valu's division in Xenia, Ohio, primary wholesaler for the four Clyde's stores.

Clyde's Super Valu claimed the first booth inside the entrance. A big roulette wheel was stationed there. Everybody who spun it received a coupon good for a discount on a grocery product, redeemable at any of the stores. Super Valu employees manning the booth also passed out shopping bags bearing the store logo.

The expo kicked off Thursday night with a concert by Juice Newton, followed by the Beach Boys on Friday and the Charlie Daniels Band on Saturday. The 5,000-seat arena was filled to capacity each night, with attendees paying $10 a ticket. Admission to the expo alone was $2.

"The exposition was the biggest thing that has ever happened in this part of Kentucky. People appreciate our community involvement and have responded by patronizing our stores. We plan to make this an annual event for years to come," Barbour says.

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Title Annotation:outstanding merchandising, advertising, and promotion
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Mar 1, 1984
Words:421
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