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Businesses showcase their stuff Saturday

Timing it with the Halloween weekend, the second annual River Falls Business Expo will again feature a heavy dose of decorations and activities for kids and families.

"We want to make sure there's plenty to do for people who attend, and especially enough going on to keep the kids busy," said Chamber of Commerce CEO Rosanne Bump. "We want to make this fun. We did that last year and the turnout was very good."

The chamber-sponsored Business Expo is a way to showcase the range of local businesses.

"It's an opportunity to highlight these businesses and the many local products and services they offer," Bump said.

The first Business Expo was held a year ago in the River Falls Armory. Bump said it was well-attended and popular, with some 50 vendors on display. Attendance for the day reached 800.

To accommodate more showing space, this Saturday's Business Expo will take place at Knowles Center on the UW-River Falls campus from noon to 4 p.m.

Admission is free. There will be indoor trick-or-treating, face and pumpkin painting, carnival games, and coloring and craft activities. Kids are encouraged to dress up for the occasion.

Bump said the day's entertainment will include a stage magician and a dance class recital. Outside the Knowles Center there will also be hay and limo rides.

Before the expo starts, registered business vendors can enjoy a one-hour social hour that includes brunch at 11 a.m.

Vendors at last year's Business Expo offered lots of giveaways, free samples and products to show off, from soups, sub sandwiches and chili, to woodcarving and fitness equipment demonstrations.

"It's strictly up to them to decide what they want to bring, sell and give away at their booths," Bump said. "The goal is to keep people who drop by engaged.

"We had a great response from businesses last year on how they felt the expo went and how visitors were responding. We were asked right away what we would be doing for this year's expo. Now you can find out."