During the Tradeshow Tailgate Expo, the scene at Robarts Arena on Sept. 21 was a little different from past business expos by the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance.
The auditorium was filled with sports jerseys, football-shaped balloons, and fun opportunities in keeping with the event's newly chosen theme.
“A lot of people went a little outside of the box and really got into the game,” said business alliance president Brittany Lamont.
A few examples of the team spirit, she said, included social media competitions between different businesses, an opportunity to win Super Bowl tickets from Florida Cancer Specialists and a virtual reality football station by Rite Technology.
The scene was completed by the presence of the marching band from Bayshore Elementary in Bradenton, which circled the auditorium once while offering a performance.
The business alliance has been holding the expo since its inception, but this year, it decided to create a new experience for the event, which it had held in partnership with Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce in past years.
Some business owners said the experience was a win.
“A lot of people are trying the food. Everyone loved it,” said Sarasota's Ahmed Saad of Al Forno Mediterranean Grill & Subs. “People who hadn’t heard of us, have heard of us now, and it seems like everyone is going to come out.”