Vendors filled the Career Education Building at Iowa Central Community College Friday for the first night of the 2013 Home & Garden Expo.
The event, which brought nearly 70 vendors from around the state to Fort Dodge, provided a chance for businesses to meet potential customers and talk about their products.
This year's Expo features a number of first-time vendors, which includes some area businesses.
-Messenger photos by Peter Kaspari
Linda Lauver, left, marketing and community relations representative for Friendship Haven, talks with Rebecca Hanson, of Fort Dodge, at the Home & Garden Expo in the Career Education Building at Iowa Central Community College. Lauver said Friendship Haven is participating in the Expo for the first time this year.
Pat Fitzgerald, left, of Fitzgerald Industries, demonstrates the carvings and engravings his business does.
Linda Lauver, marketing and community relations representative for Friendship Haven, said the campus decided to take part in the Home & Garden Expo after experiencing growth over the past few years.
"We wanted to be available for the community to talk to us," Lauver said. "We're able to explain our new projects and provide information to the public."
Though the event had only been open for a few hours, Lauver said she had already spoken with several people.
"The parking lot is filling up, and we've definitely had some interest," she said. "It's nice to go out into the community."
Another business, Fitzgerald Industries, of Manson, celebrated its grand opening by taking part in the Expo.
Computer Aided Drafting designer Pat Fitzgerald said the business creates custom benches, fire pits and yard signs.
"We can cut glass, wood, tile and steel," Fitzgerald said. "Everything comes to the shop as raw material and we do everything in-house."
Fitzgerald Industries decided to take part in the Expo as a way of meeting potential clients, he said.
"We're hoping to get our name out there and let everybody know who we are."
Mudjacking Solutions is another new business hoping to make itself known.
"We do concrete work, which includes raising concrete that has sunk into the ground," Jeff Hill said. "This includes driveways and settled or uneven sidewalks."
Hill said the Home & Garden Expo provides an opportunity to spread the word about what the business offers.
"It's a good spot to be able to make contacts, not only in Fort Dodge but the surrounding areas," he said.
In addition to the new businesses, there are those who have returned to the annual Expo.
C's Landscape and Design, of Boone, set up this year after being absent for a few years.
"We do landscaping, installation and water features," Jennifer Luetkeman, of C's Landscape and Design, said.
Flooring America, which has been to every past Expo, is a part of this year's as well.
"We have good turnout every year," said Randy Hoffman. "Our customers ask us questions and we provide answers."
Nick Westphal, a sales associate for Midwest Construction, said the company has seen success in the past through the Expo.
"We're hoping to get people interested in doing projects," he said.
Another returning business is Aerus Electrolux, of Clive.
Owner Neil Davis, who talked to several people about buying vacuums, said he was hoping for a successful weekend.
"Fort Dodge has good people," Davis said.
Some of those people Friday were Phyllis Koester and her husband, Darrell, of Fort Dodge. They were looking for a new vacuum at the Aerus Electrolux booth.
"We come here every year just to see what's new and to check things out," Phyllis Koester said after trying out a new vacuum.
Trent Bockoven, co-owner of Superior Siding, of Fort Dodge, said he enjoyed seeing past customers.
"A lot of people come here," Bockoven said. "It's nice to be able to walk by and recognize people you know."
Dell Seagren, who owns the Fort Dodge business Stone Creek Landscape & Nursery Inc. with his wife, Shirley, said he looks forward to being a part of the Expo every year.
"It's early, but there's a nice crowd here," Seagren said Friday. "I'm looking forward to a great weekend."
Mike Arbuckle, of Fort Dodge, was looking at windows with his wife, Mindy, Friday.
"We tend to come out and see the different products," Arbuckle said. "I'm always interested in improving our home."