ROCKTON—For Roscoe resident Gina-Lisette Devlin, this year’s Stateline Business Expo was more than a chance to see old friends.
It felt like coming home to Hononegah Community High School, her alma-mater as well as for her three daughters.
Gina-Lisette and her husband, Randy Devlin, both served in the U.S. military. They welcomed a chance to ask members of the American Legion about donating burial flags for local families in honor of their own relatives who also served. She is an Army veteran. He served in the Air Force.
“I always like to come out and see what new businesses are down here, and see old friends,” she said. “It’s wonderful that it’s back at Hononegah. It’s huge here. I love to see what they’ve done with this place.”
This weekend’s event marked the first time in several years that the expo, formerly called the RoRo Expo, has been held at the high school. When the Hononegah dome collapsed in an ice storm in December of 2015, the business expo had to find a new home.
The Stateline Expo included a bouncy house, prizes, a pizza eating contest, a pancake breakfast, live music and of course plenty of business vendors displaying their products and services.
John Broda, Board President of the Stateline Chamber of Commerce, said the renovated fieldhouse offered more space to showcase local businesses and organizations for visitors.
“It’s just been a blessing,” Broda said. “We’ve been calling it a homecoming.”
Organizers anticipated a few thousand visitors over the weekend, and Broda said the chamber received positive feedback about returning to the high school.
Broda said he hopes the new name of Stateline Business Expo will catch on in the future.
Board of Directors member Zach Townsend said the expo helps the chamber keep a finger on the pulse of the local business community while letting residents have face-to-face interactions with business owners.
“We don’t want our community to see just nameless storefronts,” Townsend said. “The people that live here care about the community.”
The Rockton-Roscoe Junior Indians youth football and cheerleading organization displayed a big banner declaring, “Welcome Home.”
Junior Indians cheerleading program leader Dana Stockton said the expo offered another chance to connect with community members and return to the event’s roots.
“It’s cool to be in this new building,” Stockton said.
Doug Nelson, who heads the Junior Indians football program, said the organization instills values including safety, discipline, commitment, teamwork and exercise in hundreds of kids in the community at large.
“We’re teaching the kids fundamentals besides sportsmanship,” Nelson said. “It’s like a big family affair.”
While concessions were not allowed inside the fieldhouse, that didn’t curb the enthusiasm for a pizza eating contest Saturday. The winner wolfed down six-and-a-half jumbo slices.
Mark Walkey, owner of Mark’s Pizza in Rockton, said he was happy to once again sponsor the event and support other local businesses.
Being back at the high school was an added bonus.
“We started at Hononegah and now we’re back home,” Walkey said.
The downtown pizzeria is currently raising money for the Rockton School District Parent Teacher Organization. Local students are coloring their own pizza boxes which their family can then order a custom pizza inside that same box.
Walkey said he expects the Rockton School District Creative Pizza Fundraiser will draw in at least 1,000 unique orders, with many more boxes being decorated. Nine grades are involved in the fundraiser.