In the decades between the last and most recent exhibit of local merchants, the Township of North Dundas’ business community has ebbed and flowed.

The torchbearers have remained, while others have either tried and failed, or been richly successful for a short window of time before going out on a high.

Industry has also advanced as Winchester’s Parmalat plant has continued to expand, becoming a titan in its industry. Chesterville’s once-revered Nestle plant closed unceremoniously more than 10 years ago, but there is hope for the property again with an Ottawa office furniture firm having taken over the sprawling complex for its headquarters, and offering space to other interested businesses.

Morewood’s Guildcrest Homes is under new ownership, but continues to pump out beautiful modular homes at an exponential rate.

No matter the many changes, what is abundantly clear after Sat., May 13’s Local Business Expo is that the municipality has a rich community of merchants providing a wide assortment of products and services.

The North Dundas Chamber of Commerce partnered with the township to resurrect the long-dormant trade show format.

In a little more than three months of planning, the municipality and its neighbours were treated to what will surely be a highlight of the year in North Dundas.

More than 60 businesses filled the arena floor and second-storey hall of the Joel Steele Community Centre, and upwards of 1,000 people descended on the municipal facility throughout the day.

There was doubt among some longtime chamber members that an expo was a necessary venture, but it’s clear the success proved the doubters wrong.

The first 200 people through the expo doors were treated to a swag bag, and those were snatched before the noon hour rang out. Each person entering was given a wristband, and those, too, were all used up.

In a province where it appears to be growing ever-difficult to do business in, those operators from throughout the township are proving that a good idea and a needed service are just that.

Some people in attendance learned of businesses they didn’t know of otherwise, and many merchants were able to catch up with longtime customers and lure in new ones.

It was networking at its finest, which is an oh-so-necessary connection to make when you’re a small business owner.

More than anything, the expo served as a friendly reminder of the giants of business who came before us.

The event was held in a facility named after a longtime business owner who is directly connected to many of our cherished events. Others who have played a part in shaping the local business community find their names honoured on street signs throughout township villages, which is certainly the case in Winchester.

Undoubtedly, the torch has been passed.