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Palos Area Chamber Expo will bring local faves together at Astros’ home

A scheduling conflict that resulted in Shepard High School offering to host the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce Business & Health Expo on Saturday, April 30, seems to have been a blessing in disguise for the organizers.

In keeping with tradition, the Expo is being held the day before the 9th annual Southwest Half Marathon and 10K, which will kick off at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, May 1, at 7600 W. Route 83.

Race participants, likely more than 1,000 people, will be picking up their race packets and “goody bags” at the Expo, and the gymnasium at Shepard, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., provides plenty of space for all the activities that will be going on there that day, including some entertainment provided by students.

In past years, the event was held at Moraine Valley Community Church on 127th Street, just east of Ridgeland Avenue, in Palos Heights. This year the church had a conflict with another event it had scheduled for the expo and half marathon weekend. Previously, the chamber expo has been held at Trinity Christian College and Chicago Christian High School, both off Route 83 in Palos Heights.

“[The Shepard gymnasium] is definitely bigger than the space we had before [at the church],” said Mike Barbari, chairman of the chamber committee that is organizing and overseeing the expo.

“We’re a business and health expo, and we will have enough space to split up the health and wellness part from the business part,” said Barbari, the branch manager of First Midwest Bank at 13419 S. Ridgeland Ave.

For the first time ever, LifeSource will also be running a blood drive at the expo, Barbari said.

“People are invited to come in and sign up that day, on a first-come, first-served basis,” he said. “Come to the expo and perhaps save a life. The more, the merrier.”

There is still time for businesses to pay the fee, signup and participate in the expo. The old Palos Heights Chamber of Commerce is larger now, taking in Palos Park enterprises under the rubric of the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I am not sure yet how many area businesses will be participating in the Expo, but we are signing up new ones every day,” he said.

“On the health and wellness side, we will have local chiropractors, health food stores, Palos Community Hospital and more,” said Barbari. For the first time, Palos Hospital is one of the principal sponsors of the Southwest Half-Marathon this year also.

“Everyone is invited to come out and see what our Palos community has to offer. A lot of people just don’t know what businesses and services are available here,” he said.

The expo won’t all be business either.

Entertainment will also be provided during the event, with the school’s dance group among those planning to perform.

Artwork done by Shepard students will also be on display tables throughout the venue.

“It is a win-win for everyone. The students will be find out about us, and we will find out about them,” said Barbari.

The expo is usually a good place to pick up pens, pencils, chocolate and other candies, and a host of other trinkets and giveaways handed out by area businesses and nonprofit organizations at their tables.

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