The Civic Centre was buzzing this Saturday morning as Community Futures Nicola Valley (CFNV) hosted their second annual ‘Community Engagement Fair.’ The networking event looks to connect community members to the various non-profit organizations in the Nicola Valley. 

On Saturday, October 1, Merritt Civic Centre saw roughly 36 different local non-profit organizations for CFNV’s networking event. 

“The goal of the Community Engagement Fair is to connect members of the public with groups that they might want to participate with,” said CFNV Lending Officer Joe Nemeth. 

“There’s a lot we can get done through partnership and hopefully people have found groups to partner with as part of this event.” 

CNFV is a non-profit organization that acts as a resource for current and aspiring business owners in rural and remote communities. The group offers a variety of services including financial loans and business training. 

Nemeth notes that this was the second annual engagement fair hosted by Community Futures. The group organized the first year of the event back in 2019, but as with most public gatherings, the event had to be put on hold due to the COVID-19 restrictions. 

“People have been excited,” he said. “A lot of these groups have been excited to jump back in and participate. A lot of these groups have signed up over two years ago and have stuck to their word by being here today. We can’t thank them enough for the commitment to Community Futures like that.” 

What’s new for the event’s second go around is featuring recreational organizations such as the Merritt Snowmobile Club.

“A lot of NPO’s say that they need events like this to access new blood, so it’s great to see how much the public have shown up.” 

Aside from networking opportunities, attendees were treated to raffle prizes from the different organizations. There was also free snacks and refreshments, as well as an entertaining dance number, performed by Kate Van Rensburg of the Love to Dance Academy.  

Kate Van Rensburg of Love to Dance Academy, performing a dance number during the engagement fair. Izaiah Reyes/Herald

“I think this is starting to become a tent pole event for us,” Nemeth described. “Every year we want to be hosting this and we just want to see it become bigger and better next year.”