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Business Expo brings locals together (7 photos)

Even a princess was a part of the expo this year

The seventh annual Orillia and Lake Country Business Expo brought local businesses and residents in the area face-to-face

Visitors to ODAS Park’s Roller Skating Rink, where the 60 vendors were set up, got a taste of everything from food, not-for-profit organizations, business solutions and business development — and they got to meet a princess.

Jil Koller, owner of a kids’ birthday party entertainment business, Orillia’s Party Princess, was displaying her business by changing costumes, from Rapunzel to Cinderella.

The business idea came about after she threw her own four-year-old a princess-themed party. The experience appealed to other mothers and Koller said she started getting requests to come out to parties to entertain kids, using fairytale themes, usually that of Disney princesses.

“I go dressed as the chosen princess,” she said. “And not only that, I’m in character the entire time, by talking to the kids as if I’ve gone through that character’s experiences.”

Koller said her get up and the story she tells as the princess fascinates kids, who ask questions and then always request to have a photo taken with her.

Aside from this, she plays games with the kids, builds crafts with them and sets up a booth for face painting too.

Being a start up, Koller said, the business expo works well for getting her the marketing exposure she needs.

“It's been wonderful for me,” noted the Orillia resident. “Some of the businesses here have already booked events with me. One in particular wants to do a partnership.

“It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t come here,” said Koller.

Where she makes parties a fun time, across the aisle from her was Yorke Motivational Consulting, a professional and business development coaching business run by Risha Yorke.

“I make people and businesses awesome,” she said.

Yorke was giving on-the-spot personality assessment demonstrations to give an idea of her work to those stopping by.

“When I work with someone one-on-one,” she said, further explaining her business, “I help them establish goal and help find a practical solution to achieving them.”

Yorke said she does this through either a pre-built 12-week transformational confidence and leadership program or through a customized program built around her client’s specific needs.

“I want to support this event because supporting local business is integral to growing local businesses,” she said.

But despite the slow start to the day, Yorke said, she had made some quality connections.

“I’m hoping the event picks up steam and gets higher attendance every year it runs,” she said.

Supporting local was also paramount to Mike Jefferies who was attending the expo.

“I do business with some of the vendors here so I came out here to support them,” he said. “I’d rather give business to locals than others.”

These are the kinds of connections Tim Ticknor said the organizing committee was hoping businesses would benefit from.

“The first hour of the event was for businesses to business networking so partnerships are formed,” he said.

But the other aspect of the expo was to help connect residents with the faces behind local businesses.

“This supports local business and community growth, making it a win-win,” Ticknor said.

He said he hoped more people would be able to come by after getting off work and before the show closed at 7 p.m.

The expo has been around for seven years, with the exception of last year, when it fell off the radar because of changes to the executive, said Ticknor.

In choosing ODAS Park for bringing back the expo this year, he said, the committee, formed of local business, looked at the availability of space to grow, the proximity to Orillia and the townships, as well as the familiarity with the venue.

“We’re hoping to have this location as a repeat location,” he said.

The decision was made based on feedback received from both vendors and visitors to the last couple of shows. Feedback for today’s show can be sent at

Mehreen Shahid

About the Author: Mehreen Shahid

Mehreen Shahid covers civic matters under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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