By Justin Kropff

The 25th annual Brandon Business Expo & “Taste of Brandon™” was held Thursday May 16 inside the Florida State Fairgrounds’ Charles M. Davis Special Events Center. As is the case each year, the event enables area businesses a chance to show off their latest and greatest products and services, while at the same time satisfying tons of taste buds. As in years past, attendees voted for their favorites in two categories: Best Taste and Best Dessert. Best Booth honors were also presented. Award winners were announced at the event’s conclusion. Nearly 25 restaurants and caterers competed for votes entered by attendees at computerized voting locations.

The winners were: 2013 Best Taste Award Winner: Cheddar’s Casual Café, Runner up: Square 1 Burgers

2013 Best Dessert Award Winner: Bahama Breeze, Runner up: Village Inn; 2013 Best Booth Award Winner: Tampa Bay Times, Runner up: Village Inn.

The Tampa Bay Times’ booth featured two tall bright yellow balloon towers and banners that included various emoticon smiley faces.  Booth visitors were offered smiley face stress balls and lollipops, and yellow icing cupcakes.

“We’re very excited about our growth within this area,” Times’ Advertising/General Manager Tony Del Castillo said. “We’re celebrating this growth with this year’s booth’s theme. We’re very proud of our journalistic product and product solutions that enable our advertisers to pinpoint the marketplace that they want to reach.”

Big Frog Custom T­Shirts & More Owner Karen Ayers exhibited during this event for the first time. She invested in a booth because the venue enabled her to directly communicate with future customers.

“Many people who stopped by our booth didn’t know anything about us,” she said. “Now they do. Additionally we’ve been successful with gathering email addresses from those wanting to be added to our email distribution list. These were two of our goals.”

The 2013 Brandon Business Expo & “Taste of Brandon™” was made possible because of the efforts of the Chamber’s Small Business Development Committee, Expo Task Force members and Co­Chairs Carole Gill and Jeff Campbell, and all of the event’s volunteers.

Co­-title sponsors for the event were Ed Morse Cadillac of Brandon and Brandon Automall FIAT. Contributing sponsors included Florida Hospital/The Wound Healing Institute­Brandon, Florida State Fair Authority, Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, MetroPCS, Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Electric Company, Triton Care, Inc. and WorldPay Merchant Processing.


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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.