By Lily Jamaludin, jamaludi@grinnell.edu

This Saturday, the Grinnell Home and Community Expo will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The Expo will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Grinnell High School and will feature both local and out-of-town businesses, gardening celebrities and even a few surprises.

The primary goal of the Expo is to give local businesses a chance to connect with prospective clients and share their services and products.

“It’s very impressive that we have such a diverse business community here in town, and this is a great way to feature them, as well as some of our nonprofits, and give them the highlight that they deserve,” said Rachel Kinnick, Events Manager for the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce. “Hopefully it will encourage people to get out and spend their money locally.”

One such business is Vander Linden Construction, which will also participate in a Tour of Homes during the afternoon.

“Our focus this year will be the Grinnell Housing Initiative and what Vander Linden Construction is offering with the Villas at Prairie Pointe and the building opportunities in our development Prairie Pointe Estates,” said company president Dave Vander Linden. “We will be promoting the Tour of Homes that will take place following the Expo from 1:00 to 4:00 and encouraging people to stop by our showroom at 1947 Jewel Drive during the tour of homes.”

To Vander Linden, the Expo is an invaluable opportunity to advertise his company and make business connections.

“Last year’s Expo helped us launch the Villas at Prairie Pointe and we got some nice leads. We also secured a couple of remodeling projects from the Expo,” he said.

The Tour of Homes is a new feature this year and is part of Grinnell’s community initiative to build the local housing market.

“We have so many people who commute to Grinnell who don’t actually live here,” Kinnick said. “They spend a lot of money here, and we are very appreciative, but we want to, in essence, grow our housing force so that, when there are opportunities for people to move into town, they have places to go.”

The 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. tour will aim to showcase some of these opportunities.

“The tour… will feature a couple of new properties that people have been building,” Kinnick said. “We’ve also partnered with realtors to feature some homes that are currently on the market.”

The Expo itself will feature demonstrations by a number of different groups and individuals, including Jerry Kluver, whose gardening show “Get Growing With Jerry Kluver” appears on the local KCCI Channel 8.

“At the gym itself, we will have a bunch of presentations. Jerry Kluver, who is Hyvee’s gardening guru… is the gardening expert of Iowa. He’ll be here, which is amazing,” Kinnick said. “He’ll do a presentation at 11:00 and one at 12:30 … [and] Jung’s Taekwondo will be doing different demonstrations throughout the day.”

“We also have a special surprise at ten, which I can’t tell you about,” she added.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of contests. At the Tour of Homes in the afternoon, participants will be given a passport to be stamped at each house they visit. Based on how many stamps they receive, participants’ names will be entered into a drawing to win a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas for two.

“We’ll incorporate that into different events we have in the summer and the grand prize drawing will be in August,” Kinnick said. “This one has the most chances of anything planned so far, because any time you get a stamp on it, that’s one entry, so you can get upwards of twelve entries at the home show we have here.”

There are other competitions occurring during the event. For example, the Door Doctor will be holding a promotional “Ugliest Garage Door Contest.”

“Those in the 50112 zip code can submit a picture of their ugly residential garage door by March 15 to ineedthedoordoctor@gmail.com. Three finalists will be chosen and posted on our Facebook page shortly after,” said Melissa Ulrickson, Marketing Director of the Door Doctor. “Anyone, including Grinnell College students, can vote on our Facebook page for the Ugliest Garage Door in Grinnell. The winner will receive a new garage door.”

Kinnick hopes to see College students at the Expo Saturday.

“I think it would be great for Grinnell students to just come out and see the vendors, learn more about the diversity we have in our community. I think it’s impressive to see that and, like I said, a lot of things you don’t see or think about necessarily.”