BELDING — More than 2,500 people crowded the halls of Belding High School for the 17th annual Belding Community Showcase on Tuesday night, where area community groups and businesses came together to show off what the area has to offer.
According to event organizer Tiffany Jackson, 53 community groups and 37 businesses were at the event, handing out goodie bags and endless amounts of information about services they provide.
“This is just phenomenal,” Jackson said. “People who came today actually had a chance to talk to community groups and businesses about what they do.”
Jackson said this year’s event took on a whole new look and feel with the renovations to Belding High School now complete. With a new gymnasium, auditorium and cafeteria, there was more than enough space to fit in the various groups and businesses. Jackson attributed the school’s wider hallways and more spacious locations to making this year’s event seem less crowded and more engaging.
“There’s so much more space for people to move around and just be able to actually look and take time to look, instead of feeling like they are just shuffling through,” said Rachelle Ostrander, one of the team members who assisted with organizing the showcase. “There isn’t anybody hidden down a hallway, everybody got equal exposure.”
The showcase was rescheduled for Tuesday after a tornado watch prevented the event from occurring on its original date of April 18. While Jackson said the postponement created complications, she credited her team of volunteers for helping to make Tuesday night a success.
“I have a great team and we really just had to have everybody on board to pick ourselves up and move everything to a new date,” she said. “Even with the change of date, we only lost one or two groups, however, we then gained another three, so we actually saw an increase. We squeezed in people at the last minute to make sure they would have a space.”
Jackson estimated as many as 2,500 people attended the showcase, crediting many groups and businesses as well as the elementary choir programs being performed in the new Belding Performing Arts Center auditorium.
One of those individuals included Belding High School freshman Alex Parker, 14, who came to the showcase curious about local businesses.
“I just wanted to see all of the opportunities that are out there,” she said.
At the conclusion of the showcase, High School Principal Brett Zuver handed out two Gold Star awards, one for an outstanding individual, the other for an outstanding business.
The outstanding individual was awarded to Belding resident Mikayla Linebaugh, who works as a paraprofessional at the high school and serves as the high school girls’s volleyball and softball coach. She is also of the founder of the B Foundation, which has helped in raising more than $70,000 for Belding families who have family members suffering from cancer.
“She lives, eats, breathes, sleeps Belding and Belding Area Schools,” Zuver said. “She’s done so many things that go above and beyond both the community and the schools.”
Premium Truck and Auto received the award for outstanding area business.
“This business has supported Belding Area Schools for numerous years by their involvement and support in band, athletics and academics,” Zuver said.