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17th Home Show draws a crowd

March 11, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

Jamey Shatzer went to Home Show 2002 with a mission: to compare loan rates and find construction ideas.

The Smithsburg resident is building a 21-by-27-foot addition to her home that includes three bedrooms and one bathroom.

"I wanted to get some ideas," said Shatzer, who attended her first Home Show Sunday.

The 17th annual show was held Saturday and Sunday at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic Recreation and Community Center.

Debi Turpin, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Washington County Inc., which organizes the Home Show, said people who attend the event are usually looking for something specific.

The show attracted about 3,800 people over two days, she said.

"They seem to all come with a purpose in mind," Turpin said.

That's good news for exhibitors because they know people will be looking for their products and services, she said. It's also a factor that helps convince the exhibitors to keep coming back, she said.

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This year's show featured 125 exhibitors and 135 booths, about 25 more booths than last year, Turpin said. The booths included businesses selling new kitchen cabinets, hot tubs and garden decorations, as well as satellite television systems, and well-drilling and pest control services.

Bob Frank of Halfway said he came to the show looking for plumbing information to redo his bathtub.

"It's a good place to get a cross-section without driving all over the countryside," Frank said. "When you got your own home, you're always looking for some ways to make some improvements."

Frank, who was in the real estate business for 35 years, said it was also nice to run into businesspeople he got to know while working in real estate.

The shows are the largest fund-raiser of the year for the Home Builders Association, but Turpin declined to disclose how much the group raises. She said it was enough to cover operating expenses.

Proceeds from the show will also go toward the HCC Hawks Booster Club for a scholarship fund, Turpin said.

Frank Erck, chairman of Home Show 2002, said one of the goals of the show is to educate people about the home-building and home-improvement businesses so they can make better decisions about their own homes.

With exhibitors on hand to discuss their products and services and free seminars, those who attend the show can learn valuable tips, he said. The show featured several seminars, including tips for faux painting and wallpapering.

"People are wasting their time if they just come out here and walk through the aisles and look at the booths," Erck said. "You have to get into the booths and ask questions."

He said he and Turpin have traveled to a few home shows across the country for tips on how to make the local one a success.

"You try to bring in new ideas," he said. "You have to keep pumping fresh things into the show which maybe don't have anything to do with the building part of it."

This year's show included a silent auction to benefit the Humane Society of Washington County, a fishing contest and craft workshop for children.

On Sunday, children wore goggles and aprons while hammering away to make wooden bunny baskets. The event was sponsored by Lowe's Home Improvement and Warehouse.

Turpin said the people who visit the shows are the key to its success.

"We certainly could not hold a successful show if it were not for the fact that the community comes to the shows," Turpin said. "I think it's a win-win situation. The community gets one-stop shopping and the exhibitors get to talk to a great number of people about their products and services."

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