After one-year hiatus, Palatine Business and Community Expo to return

  • Rhonda Dehn, the third-generation owner of Morkes Chocolates in Palatine, will give a chocolate-making demonstration at the upcoming Business Expo and Community Showcase on Sept. 25 in Palatine.

    Rhonda Dehn, the third-generation owner of Morkes Chocolates in Palatine, will give a chocolate-making demonstration at the upcoming Business Expo and Community Showcase on Sept. 25 in Palatine. Courtesy of Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce

Updated 9/17/2021 6:25 AM

The Business and Community Expo in Palatine will be back this month, instead of November as usual, to take advantage of the weather and offer, for the first time, outdoor activities like a petting zoo.

The family-friendly expo will take place Sept. 25, after being put on hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched in 2016, it is organized by the Palatine Area Chamber of Commerce, which uses much of the proceeds to fund its Young Entrepreneurs Academy for local students.


The event will place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Falcon Park Recreation Center, 2195 Hicks Road in Palatine. There will be almost 50 exhibitors, which is a bit less than in years past, said Steve Gaus, executive director of the chamber. Entrance is free.

"The numbers are a little bit down for a couple reasons," he said. "COVID is keeping a few people away, but it's mostly about staffing. There's been a lot more companies that wanted to be included but weren't able to staff it on a Saturday."

Also, a lot of business owners experienced financial difficulties during the pandemic, Gaus said. To that end, the chamber offered an "early bird" discount plus incentives for non-chamber members, he said.

"We're just proud to be able to deliver an event of this type this year and overcome the challenges with the pandemic," Gaus said. "We invite people to come to what should be a safe, fun, family-friendly event."

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Face masks will be required and will be available for those who forget them, Gaus said.

The exhibitors, both businesses and nonprofits, span a wide range: senior living communities, martial arts, banking, dentistry, fitness, media, chiropractors, home improvement, massage, family services, grocery, and more. The Palatine Police Department will be there with a canine unit demonstration.

For the first time at the expo, Animal Quest of Lake Villa will have an outdoor petting zoo with "very friendly animals," Gaus said. Animal Quest also will offer an interactive show with "several unusual types of animals," he said.

The final lineup is still up in the air, but there will mostly likely be a snake, lizard, tortoise, coatimundis, giant African bull frog, hedgehog, goat and bunnies, the company said.

The expo also will have an expanded children's area with a lineup from PlayGround Games that include a ring toss, "can smash," "hit the bucket," "pop a shot" and more.


Second City Canine Rescue will offer pet adoptions, and D'vine Wine and Gifts will offer wine tastings.

Food for purchase will include pulled pork sandwiches from Chicago Culinary Kitchen, boxed lunches from Jewel-Osco, coffee from Christie's Dairy Delights and an ice cream truck from My Flavor It! Place.

Everyone who attends will receive a raffle ticket, Gaus said. There will be a 50/50 cash raffle and themed raffle baskets -- with things like a "night out" basket with gift certificates for a local restaurant, hotel and a bottle of wine -- put together by Kate Johnson of the Palatine Senior Center. All the vendors donated prizes of $25 or more; the event's partner sponsor is the Palatine Park District.

For times and other information, visit and click on the expo flyer on the upper left corner.

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