Business, environment on display in dual Kent events Saturday

By Dave O'Brien | staff writer Published:

Kent bustled with activity Saturday morning as unseasonably cool temperatures chased some people away from the annual Who's Your Mama? Earth Day festival downtown, participants said, but likely helped attendance at the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce Business & Community Expo at Theodore Roosevelt High School, organizers said.

Kent residents woke up to snow and highs in the mid-40s. That left yardwork out of the question, joked Lori Wemhoff, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce.

"Perfect bad weather," she said, standing in the high school cafeteria.

"Perfect expo weather."

Wemhoff said the expo broke its own previous record with 124 vendors on hand -- up from 118 in 2012, she said. With the band Rio Neon providing the live soundtrack, vendors sold jewelry, clothing, home goods and furnishings, and other services.

Jeff Dettling of Bellevue, near Sandusky, was exhibiting his artwork made from discarded and repurposed metal. The brightly-painted metal ladybugs, turtles, lizards, and frogs made out of nails, horseshoes and washers, and penguins made from small propane tanks, are is coated for weatherproofing and great for decorating outdoor gardens.

"If it's metal and unique, I'll use it," he said. Examples of his art can be found at www.facebook.com/jeff.dettling.

This year's "Taste of Kent" in the high school cafeteria also was at capacity, with 12 vendors handing out samples of their food, and was extended by 30 minutes this year, Wemhoff said.

Chamber president Michelle Hartman said the chamber "probably sold 1,500 tickets" to guests sampling food at the Taste of Kent. The event -- sponsored by Sitting Pretty Linens on East Waterloo Road in Springfield Township -- benefits a chamber scholarship fund for Roosevelt seniors.

"We're appreciative for the participants of the Taste of Kent each year," Hartman said.

Sitting Pretty Linens rents chair covers, table cloths and runners, backdrops and other cloth products for special events and provided all the linens for the tables at the Taste of Kent, which Hartman and Wemhoff said got numerous compliments. Jeramy Patton, operations manager at Sitting Pretty Linens, and his wife Amanda, who is the office manager at the business, both are KSU graduates. Jeramy Patton said they were excited to be at the event and "get our name out there."

"We're excited for the opportunity to partner with the chamber," he said. "They said it looked nice. We were pleased."

Wemhoff already has Rio Neon and the high school booked for next year's expo, which will be held on April 12, 2014, she said.

"The support of our members that participate in this, it means a lot," Wemhoff said.

Who's Your Mama?

Those who braved the cold for the 7th annual Who's Your Mama? Earth Day block party in downtown Kent, sponsored by Standing Rock Cultural Arts, were met with wind and some snow flurries throughout the day.

A solar power display shared the street with puppets, organic farmers and food vendors. Jeremy Koosed, owner and operator of Plant Kingdom Snackery and Bakery, pitched passerby on the health and environmental benefits of his hemp oil-infused baked goods, which are available at the Kent Natural Foods Co-op on East Main Street.

Koosed said flax and hemp oils are very useful in baking and elsewhere in the kitchen, and their use benefits the environment. He said he braved the "surprisingly chilly" weather because "Earth Day is every day."

Theodore Roosevelt High School Environmental Club co-advisors Chris Carman and Lyndee Wolf stood bundled against the wind and cold in the middle of East Main Street selling raffle tickets for a rain barrel donated by the Portage County Soil & Water Conservation District, a $100 value. The barrel was painted by Davey Elementary School students and proceeds were to benefit the high school environmental club and Davey Math and Science Club, Carman said.

One display at the table was a mosaic of a tree made from discarded plastic bottle caps. Carman said he saw a project like it at a conference at Stark State College in North Canton, and eager students eagerly tackled the project.

"It turned a lot of heads," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1128 or dobrien@recordpub.com

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