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Fast Track trade show has heavy turnout Wednesday

Thursday, March 7, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Even though the doors didn’t open until 4 p.m., a line had formed at Fast Track 2013 by 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The annual trade show, which is organized by the Martinsville/Henry County Chamber of Commerce, took place Tuesday and Wednesday at The Clock Tower Building at Commonwealth Centre.

Amanda Witt, president of the Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with the turnout.

“The weather cooperated,” Witt said. “I think we’ve had a really good couple of days.”

Jesse Cole, managing partner of the Martinsville Mustangs, described the event as an “outstanding introduction” to Martinsville/Henry County.

Cole attended the trade show in a bright yellow suit and top hat, while Martinsville Mustangs Director of Fun Emily McDonald wore a hot dog costume.

“We’re just here to have fun and meet people,” McDonald said.

Cole added that Mo, the Mustangs’ new mascot who debuted at the show the night before, had been a big hit both nights.

“He was giving out high fives all last night,” Cole said.

The Nelson Family Dealerships booth, which featured Daytona Beach, Fla., magician Chad Long, proved a hit with attendees and held a crowd all night.

Long performed many different kinds of illusions, from card tricks to sleight of hand.

In one performance, Long handed a die to Zack Margrave, who was taking a break from his station at the Boy Scouts booth. Long asked Margrave to pick a number between one and six, place the die on his palm with that number facing up, and then cover the die with his other palm. Long then asked Margrave to count aloud from one to six.

Margrave chose the number four and counted from one to six. Even though he couldn’t see the die, Long immediately guessed four.

Long explained that there was no magic involved; he simply used an old poker “tell.” When Margrave counted aloud to six, he said the number four slightly more slowly than the other numbers.

“It was pretty amazing,” Margrave said. “I’ve never heard of that.”

The Colonial Downs booth also proved popular with attendees. The off-track betting site’s booth featured a large prize wheel. Prizes included free admission certificates, a poster of the famous racehorse Secretariat and Belmont Stakes commemorative drinking glasses.

Colonial Downs manager Wanda Smith said that while the trade show wasn’t quite as packed Wednesday night as it had been on Tuesday’s VIP night, she was still very impressed with the crowd.

Nelson Stanley of Stanburn Winery in Stuart saw the trade show as a great opportunity for business connections. While ABC laws prevented the winery from offering free samples of wine, they were able to sell $2 samples of five of their eight varieties of wine.

“It’s always a good way to get your name out,” Stanley said of Fast Track. “We’ve made a lot of good business contacts... We’re looking for a place (in Martinsville) to have an outlet for our wine.”

Dana Amati, a volunteer with the SPCA, said that her organization’s booth, which allowed attendees to interact with puppies from local shelters, had been a success.

“People seem to love them,” Amati said, while holding a puppy. “The puppies seem to love it, too.”

She added that several attendees had expressed interest in adopting an animal that evening.

T.G. Balabanis of Martinsville said that he had been attending the trade show “since its inception,” and that this year’s Fast Track was “outstanding, as usual.”

Sarah and Joe Rakestraw of Henry County agreed.

“It’s really nice,” Sarah Rakestraw said. “They put a lot into it.”

Kyle Flood, 15, of Martinsville, said that he attended the show “the last two years.” Aside from enjoying the booths, he also got a few souvenirs to take home, including a foam baseball and a Frisbee.

He said that he plans to come back to Fast Track next year.


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