Expo showcases Ponchatoula

Representatives of more than 60 businesses from Ponchatoula and surrounding areas gathered Aug. 13 to show their wares to the community during the 17th annual Business and Professional Expo at Chesterton Square.

“This is one of the largest,” Liz Anderson, an associate with the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, said as she fielded questions from arriving guests. Anderson said she expected more than 350 people to attend.

The room was filled with displays from businesses representing medical and banking personnel to restaurants and nonprofit organizations.

“We want to promote Ponchatoula as a place to do business and as a place to bring new businesses,” Anderson said. “It will show people that we’re not a little small town but a place to be reckoned with.”

In less than an hour after the doors opened, Lisa Hughes, with McKneely and Son Funeral Homes and Cemetery, had more than 100 people visit her booth near the door’s front entrance.

Hughes said the venue is the perfect place to talk with the people in the community and let them know what services they offer.

In addition to the traditional funeral and cremation services, Hughes said, the firm offers aftercare, grief support and other services.

Margaret Joiner, who runs Angel Wings for Animals, was there to help get the word out about her nonprofit organization. The group, which has been helping animals in Ponchatoula for two years, works with animal rescue groups to help get animals out of shelters.

The retired teacher said she went to the expo to recruit volunteers.

For Ponchatoula Mayor Bob Zabbia, the wealth of exhibitors and people from the community was a sign that business is thriving in his city.

“This event draws attention to what businesses we have here,” Zabbia said, adding that a number of fine-dining establishments set up tasting booths for guests.

Katie Barnex’s fiancé , Jamie Lott, persuaded her to attend the event. Barnex, who just moved to Ponchatoula from Charlotte, N.C., said she was impressed.

“I think it brings everybody together and shows what Ponchatoula has to offer,” she said.

Chamber of Commerce President and business owner Paul Pevey agreed.

“It gives the businesses a chance to show what they have to offer, and you get to see the (business) person face-to-face so you’re able to make a better contact,” he said.

Mark Barker, of Doughlicious Donuts, seemed to be one of the biggest hits of the expo as people sampled an array of homemade donuts throughout the evening.

The fourth-generation baker has been doing business in Ponchatoula for just over a year and said business is booming.

“This event gets my product out there,” Barker said.

For information on the Ponchatoula Chamber of Commerce, call (985) 386-2536 or log on to www.ponchatoulachamber.com.