DAYTON - A visitor to the annual Dayton Expo walking by Jessica Ruthart's table would be hard pressed not to stop and select one of her cupcakes or cookies to nibble on.
If they do, they would quickly find out that baking is just one of the things she does with her Dayton-based catering business, Dinner At Your Door.
She can prepare a meal for a few, or hundreds, and regardless of how many served she will bring her passion for freshly prepared food made with seasonal ingredients.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jessica Ruthhart, owner of the Dayton-based Dinner At Your Door catering, lets Kadyn Dimler, 10, of Winterset, try one of her homemade cupcakes Friday morning at the Dayton Expo in the Dayton Community Center. Dimler gave the treat “two thumbs up.”
"I do everything from scratch," she said. "There is lots of love that goes into the food."
Ruthart has a long history of being passionate about food. She graduated from culinary school, served an internship in England and worked for several restaurants before opening her own business.
"This is what I need to do," she said.
She said the people in Dayton - her church, family and the community - have been very supportive of her efforts. Events like the Expo are where she has a chance to meet, greet and promote her services.
"I get so much business from that," she said.
Even for those already in Dayton, such as Security Savings Bank Vice President Donald Hascall, seeing the number and types of businesses that operate there can be news.
"I'm surprised at how many local businesses we have," he said.
He's happy to see it.
"I want everybody to succeed," he said.
Eric Skoglund has some big shoes to fill. He will be in charge of the day-to-day operation at Don Howe and Son. The company repairs lawnmowers and other gas-powered tools, as well as selling a full line of trimmers, mowers and other implements.
His father, John Skoglund, purchased the business from Howe who proudly proclaimed 32 years in business on his cards.
"It's a good way to introduce us to the public," Eric Skoglund said.
Many visitors were surprised to see him in Howe's booth, he said, but they're supportive and glad to see the business continue to operate.
"I'm getting good feedback," Skogland said.
The key to keeping a small community and its businesses vibrant is local support, he said. He believes that's happening in Dayton.
"Everybody steps up and takes part."
Althea Betten, of Jolley, was walking the aisles and chatting with vendors.
"My husband and I come every year to see what's new," she said.
She was also impressed with the diversity of local businesses at the Expo, and she said her own community once had many of the things Dayton still has, such as a grocery store.
"We had everything," she said. "Now everything is gone."