Visitors to the 35th annual Frankfort Community Showcase were sure to spot plenty of familiar faces. Local leaders including Frankfort Mayor Jim Holland, state Rep. Margo McDermed, Frankfort Chamber of Commerce members and Frankfort businessmen and women kicked off the Saturday, March 16 event with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We have everything from government exhibits, civic groups and businesses that are showcased today ... Our local businesses are represented at this event,” Holland said. “This event attracts children as well as adults.”

According to Brett Schaibley, the event’s committee chair, there were close to 100 exhibits at the 2019 showcase. The event was held at Lincoln-Way East High School, which also hosted ArtWorks 2019, allowing guests to attend both attractions.

“It’s important for the public to see the businesses and services offered in Frankfort,” Holland explained. “So many of the businesses here are service businesses. We don’t always know where to go for various services. This event introduces residents to those companies. “I’m like some of the children; one of my favorite things to do here is try the candy at the different booths,” Holland said, laughing.

According to the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce website, in addition to business booths, there was a “Taste of the Frankfort Chamber” section that included food booths. The showcase also offered entertainment from Down Home Guitars, as well as a bounce house, face painting, balloon animals and more.

“This is my first showcase,” said Marianne Melcher, executive director of the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce. “I got to get in on the ground floor. It’s been a great first year. It gives businesses a chance to meet people in town and also gives the Frankfort Chamber more networking opportunities.”

The Frankfort Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest chambers in the area, Schaibley said. “This has attracted people from everywhere,” he said. “There are a lot of small businesses and local non-for-profits that keep the community going and keep people employed. Small business employees are 95 percent of the work force in America. It keeps the community thriving.”

The Frankfort Chamber of Commerce boasts 640 members. One of the newest members to join is Dykstra Home Services, which is well known for its heating and air conditioning services.

“We just joined the chamber, so we are excited to be here” said Jennifer Milazzo, president of Dykstra Home Services. “We’re also hoping to make connections with other business owners while we’re here. It’s our first showcase, so we’re excited to meet a lot of homeowners here in the Lincoln-Way area.”

Committee member Laura Shallow, who has taken part in various community events, said she was honored to attend the chamber showcase. Her employer World Data Systems has been a longtime member of the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve been helping to work on this showcase for the last two years,” Shallow said. “This is a wonderful community event. It brings together the chamber and all the businesses in the community, along with the residents. It’s a way that businesses can be involved in the chamber using this event to show their business, along with meeting other businesses who are participating.”

The event also showcased artwork chosen for the Frankfort Fall Fest. Artwork was submitted by students from the Lincoln-Way high schools. This year, for the first time, there was more than one winner. Melanie Piunti, of New Lenox, won Chairman’s Choice; Courtney Kurtz, of New Lenox, won popular vote; and the Frankfort Fall Fest poster winner was Chloe Murray, of Frankfort. “This is the first year we’ve had the unveiling of the posters at the Community Showcase,” Schaibley said.

Attendees were drawn to the music coming from the Lincoln-Way Youth Strings booth, where Frankfort resident Vicky Nyder was volunteering. An alumna of Lincoln-Way North, Nyder returned to the showcase to share her love for music. “We’re always invited to play here,” she said. “I volunteer because it’s great experience, and I love being in the community. I’m a people person and letting the kids try the instruments at the booth is the highlight of my day. Some schools don’t have orchestras. They have have choirs and no strings.

Nyder plays four instruments: violin, viola, cello and bass, and her goal is to teach children how to play stringed instruments. “This is a life of a music educator,” she said, laughing. “ ... Music is everything to me. If I’m not in the practice room, I’m working on stuff in my head. It’s all around me. Parents want their kids in music, and that’s what I’m doing here today. I have kids already coming up to me today saying because of me showing them an instrument in the past when I was here, they are playing today.”