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‘Connections’ Turns Out Business Owners

MANASSAS, Va. — One of the region’s largest networking event took place Thursday afternoon at the Freedom Aquatic and Fitness Center in Manassas.

“Connections” is an annual event held each year by the Prince William Chamber of Commerce and is billed as the area’s largest trade show. A business showcase, vendors paid starting rates of $475 for a table at the event which was expected to draw 1,500 people.

By 5 p.m., the crowd had grown to 600 attendees with two more hours to the go. A total of 93 vendor booths of 103 were sold at this year’s event, and that meant that fewer booths made for a wider walkway for attendees.

“Some people seem to like that the walkway is wider than it has been in years past and have asked that we do it this way again next year,” said Andrea Whaley, who is in charge of events at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce.

As people strolled past the vendors tables and spoke with company owners and representatives, some vendors saw a mix of old friends and customers and new faces.

“They come up and talk to me on just about everything, to new banking products to their kids in college,” said Melissa Gill, of The Fauquier Bank.

While traffic remained heavy, some vendors also said they would have liked to see more residents who live in Greater Manassas and Prince William County come to the event in addition to the steady stream of businesses owners.

But for Prince William Professional Networkers President Nina Lomax, this even was about making the right connection. Her organization is open to business owners in the region looking to build sales and refer services.

“It’s all about building relationships and that’s what were dong out here today,” she said.

There were five food vendors Connections this year, and attendees were lining up at the Grafton Street restaurant booth – which serves a mix of American fare couple with the setting of an Irish pub – to try their special chicken pot pie filler and bread. Some came back two and three times to have their cups refilled with the special ingredient normally served at the restaurant on Tuesdays.

“We’ve got enough here to feed the crowd five times over,” said co-owner Tom Flannigan.

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