BELDING — The halls of Belding High School (BHS) were filled Thursday night with students, Belding residents and visitors as the 16th annual Belding Community Showcase offered a chance for everyone to mingle with area businesses, community groups and student organizations.
Almost 100 vendors were set up throughout the high school gymnasium, lobby and hallways, offering information to the hundreds of people who showed up to enjoy the displays and free food handed out throughout the night.
“Things have gone really well, we’ve seen a great crowd tonight,” event organizer Tiffany Jackson said. “We’ve especially had a great crowd of children, even without the performances here tonight. We’ve had a good team working here organizing this all today, including many students.”
Jackson said normally a combination of school events in the auditorium and live entertainment provide for larger attendance numbers for the event, but due to parking restrains because of construction at the high school, those events were not scheduled for the night.
According to Jackson, the turnout was still a success despite the ongoing changes at BHS and lack of parking.
“It’s great to see that the families are coming out in droves,” she said. “Lots of food is going out and people are getting well fed. The businesses have been happy in talking with people.”
Jackson said this year’s group of vendors was very outreaching to the public, offering free items and plenty of information in fun and creative ways.
“Our vendors have been giving away great things, we’ve seen skateboards and Frisbees, balloons galore, and lots of popcorn and pizza,” she said. “Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves and talking with the vendors about their products.”
Though the event is an opportunity for businesses, community groups and school organizations to showcase their own efforts, Jackson said the event is really about the people who come to enjoy the showcase itself.
“It’s the families out here today that make this such a special event,” she said. It’s such a great way to bring the community, schools and businesses together. Seeing grandmas and grandpas here with their grandchildren, it’s been very special. There are tons of smiles out there, it’s great to see.”
Of all the vendors in attendance at the showcase, the real showstopper appeared to be Valerie Dawdy’s live Zumba class, which attracted more than 50 people at a time, following along with her as they performed her dance routines together.
“I love watching the kids have fun exercising, which is what Zumba is about,” she said. “It’s great for me to look out and see all age groups participating. They always seem to have a blast.”
Dawdy normally performs her classes at Ellis Elementary School as part of the Belding Community Education program, but Thursday night her class was open to anyone who felt like jumping in.
“I had some regulars from my class that were here, but most of the people who joined in were kids,” she said. “They weren’t shy about it at all and they just wanted to have fun.”
Dawdy said she keeps the routine basic so not to intimidate people from wanting to participate.
“I try to keep the moves simple enough so that people who are trying it for the first time can do it,” she said. “The first year we were here we just had a small booth down on the main floor. We were moved up here last year, and now I’m just blown away. We had a lot of people here last year to, but this year people just kept coming. It was amazing and everybody was having such fun together.”