The Greater FWB Chamber of Commerce and ResortQuest are hosting the Winter Guest Fest Friday morning, January 15th from 8 a.m. to noon. The trade show is held each year to acquaint winter visitors or “snow birds” with local services on the Emerald Coast.
Rachelle Graves is the Lead Event Coordinator for the FWB Chamber of Commerce and helped organized the annual event formerly known as the “Snow Bird” Expo. Graves says the event is open to the public and guests will find a variety of vendors showcasing their businesses including local restaurants, retail outlets, repair shops, and medical providers, “Most of the attendees leave like your kids do after they’ve been trick or treating. You know, just bags of goodies that they take back to their condo or you know, they pack up and use as incentive to get their friends to come back down next year.”
Graves says the event is beneficial to the community too since most winter visitors travel a long distance to get here and tend to stay for an extended period of time. As a result, she says many visitors use the same kinds of services they would use at home, “It’s huge for the community. We have found that a lot of our winter guests have their annual checkups at White Wilson, FWB Medical Center, White Sands Podiatry, a lot of our medical providers here in the area.”
The event has grown more popular. And, Graves says by charging a nominal admission fee, they’ve been able to track the progress of the event over the years, “Because we collect a dollar at the door, we know that last year in 2015 we had over 1500 guests and the year prior we had 1300. So, even though the event is a least fourteen years old, every year it grows a little bit more.”
Event Coordinator, Rachelle Graves says it also provides winter guests an opportunity for networking with locals as well as catching up with other guests that are back in town, “So it’s really a lot of fun. It’s a reunion of sorts, a trade show, a little bit of noshing on cookies, and BBQ, and coffee. So, it’s a really fun event, action packed, four hours of fun.”
The Winter Guest Fest is set for Friday, January 15th from 8 a.m. until noon at the Emerald Coast Convention Center on Okaloosa Island. More information available at FWBChamber.org