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27 Nov 2019

Kc Black Expo (Kansas City Black Expo)

In all the years since we’ve assisted exhibitors into finding the right trade fairs and then plan their accommodation, we have witnessed a great many expos, exhibitions and trade shows close doors never to be seen from again. It’s what prompted us to remember some of the most interesting trade events that are no longer put together and organised, but will surely be missed. Or perhaps will be a blueprint for the next generation of organisers to replicate with perhaps better outcome.

The first such event on our list is the Kc Black Expo – shortened for the Kansas City Black Expo, which was held annually in Kansas City, Missouri, the United States of America. This expo had a lot more in common with a community festival than a commercial expo, but nevertheless offered businesses based in Kansas City to reach the local population. The expo had been put on and off for about thirty years and the very last edition of Kc Black Expo dates back to 2013 and was set to run for a total of three days. The last edition was housed within Bartle Hall at the Kansas City Convention centre.

KC Black Expo is also the name of the official organiser of the expo, which surprisingly doesn’t have a business in event organising but in insurance. Yes, the company is community-oriented insurance company, which provided car, boat, RV, life, specialty and business insurance.

At one point, Kc Black Expo was known as ‘the largest cultural event in Midwest’ and for good reason, since it served the community in a lot of different aspects. Organisers had set out a complex mission in front of every edition – to promote and strengthen the economic vitality of the region, and to give a platform to small and minority-owned businesses to meet community members in the flesh and build name recognition, as well as grow client bases. This was especially valuable for new ventures and businesses from the most vulnerable within the community.

Exhibition booths were reserved by a great variety of businesses. People could learn about and meet with retail store owners, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, community development and maintenance bodies. Their incentive was to increase awareness about business prospects for the minority communities. At one point, Kc Black Expo was considered to achieve the status as the largest gatherings of the members of minority owned business, industry leaders and business owners. Kc Black Expo also served as a source of innovation given that it welcomed leaders and business owners to share their knowledge and experience with each other. This was the place to learn about latest and innovative products and services available on the market then.

Statistics are rather murky as there are no official records surviving from organisers, but what we do know is that Kc Black Expo fell into the mid-size category of event with exhibitors, at its highest between 100 and 500, and its audience reached up to 25,000 visitors. This was in no small part to what the expo brought in terms of programming. One of the main selling points was the Black Friday Sale, which had everything that you could ask for in terms of shopping, art, fashion and sportswear, samples, banking, remodeling, construction and even medical supplies. Computer training was also one of the activities that drew in visitors. But perhaps the most loved aspects were the concerts and live entertainment. The last edition saw the inclusion of Masters of Funk Tour and the Teen Swagg Fest. There were, of course, other performances that covered a wide range of genres - jazz, gospel, R&B and soul.

Another way Kc Black Expo was geared towards the community is the provision of educational installations. 2012 saw the installation of the MegaBrain on the Research Medical Center area – this in turn allowed for visitors to take a tour inside the brain and learn more about its functions. The medical area checked the health of visitors with blood pressure testing and health risk profiling taking place on the site. Free dental care was also provided to community members. Beyond this Kc Black Expo saw contributions from the police force in the form of KC Police Athletic League.

No community festival would be complete without food – it’s what builds a community and there was plenty of that to go around this expo. Whether it’d be an organic coffee booth or a small place to buy to fruits and snacks, visitors had a lot of options to satiate their needs including deep fried catfish and chicken wings with all the hot sauce that you’d ever need. It’s this diversity of profile and things to do that made Kc Black Expo a standout event.