34-year-old show on hold for now

By Lynn R. Parks

Twenty years ago, annual trade shows sponsored by the Seaford Kiwanis Club attracted over 8,000 visitors.
Last year's two-day show, renamed the Seaford Kiwanis Club Community Showcase and moved from Seaford High School to the Western Sussex Boys and Girls Club to generate vitality, attracted just 600 people.
"Our trade show has a fine tradition," said Doug Figgs, past show chairman and former club president. "But in the last few years, it hasn't been attended well. We have done surveys and have petitioned businesses to see what we can do to attract people. But we just don't know why."
So in order to study the 34-year-old show and how it can be returned to what it once was, the club is putting it on hiatus. For the next two or three years, Kiwanians will be searching for other ways to raise the $20,000 they give away to community projects every year.
"I hope that in two or three years, we can put on a really great show again," said Figgs. "It is a long-standing tradition and we need to not disgrace it by continuing it the way it is."
Club president Karl Van Tine Jr. feels that the decline of the show is due to a combination of reasons, among them the growth of home entertainment. "We have home shopping and so much entertainment with cable and VCRs, people stay home to do that," he said. "I remember going as a child and it was something we looked forward to. It was a neat event."

Figgs said that the 60-member club has depended on the trade show to raise up to $10,000, half of its annual budget. But last year's show raised only $4,000, despite show chairman Kenna Nethken's efforts to make it "new and exciting, new and improved."
"The old show got kind of stale," Nethken said when he was planning the show. "It almost got to the point that the same people always came and the same vendors were always there. A lot of people got bored with it." To try to raise interest, craft booths were eliminated and a roving group of singers was added.
Figgs said that the money traditionally generated by the show is important to the club. "There are a lot of things that we have been doing every year and that we would like to continue doing," he said. "That is what we are all about: supporting the community." "The revenue we raise goes right back into the community," said Van Tine. Organizations supported by the club include the high school band and chorus and the Bible School for Special Persons sponsored by Christ Lutheran Church, Seaford.
The club will continue its annual auction, which generates around $10,000. This year's auction, which will feature new items donated by over 300 businesses as well as used items such as cars and computers, will be Saturday, Oct. 2, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Boys and Girls Club.
The club is also planning a basket bingo in mid-November (state approval is pending) and will sell Entertainment Books containing discount coupons for businesses such as restaurants, theaters and bowling alleys. Members are also contemplating sponsoring a carnival during next summers' Riverfest. In addition, the poles and curtains the club traditionally uses in its trade show are available for rent. "We are hoping to come up with nice events that the community will support," said Figgs, who is serving on a committee assigned to do just that. "We have many ideas we are mulling over."
Despite the decline of the trade show, Van Tine said that the Seaford Kiwanis is a "very vibrant club with a good nucleus." Anyone who is interested in joining may contact any Kiwanian or call membership chairman Bob Kripaitis, 629-8712.