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BOSTON -- The 2010 New England Produce Council's Produce & Floral Expo was truly an event of historic proportions.

The event, held here in the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center in a city steeped in history, celebrated its 10th anniversary with the largest show to date, said Laura Sullivan, the council's executive director.

"We had 232 booth spaces and approximately 750 people in attendance," Ms. Sullivan told The Produce News April 14. "We had good attendance, but more importantly, it is the quality of the attendees, especially from the retail chains and the independents. We are very proud of how we've built the show up over 10 years. We started out with 130 [exhibitors], and now here we are 10 years later with 232 booths."

Those attendees were greeted by music played by a Revolutionary War period quartet, as well as actors dressed as George Washington and Betsy Ross as they entered the trade show - all part of the event's "Stars & Stripes" theme.

Jack Salamon, senior category manager for Shaw's Supermarkets Inc. and president of the council, told The Produce News that "regional shows like this are really going to gain momentum, and they will take on more importance every year as retailers cut traveling budgets and expenses. I think it gives great opportunity for everybody in the buying office to see what is new and exciting in the produce industry. The buyers -- the people who actually work developing programs -- get the most from regional shows, and I think that is key."

Will Wedge, director of produce and floral for Hannaford Bros. Co., who also serves as the council's second vice president and its expo committee chairman, told The Produce News that the expo "had a tremendous amount of regional, national and even international vendors. It was a nice eclectic mix."

He said that the event "far exceeded our expectations. We have great sponsors, from the [PMA] Career Pathways Program to the cocktail party to the breakfast" and to the expo itself.

Ms. Sullivan echoed Mr. Wedge's comments.

"We have wonderful sponsors who continue to support our organization, and we would like to thank everybody for their continued support," she said. "We hope to see everybody at the NEPC expo in 2011."

(Additional photos from the event appear in the April 19, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)