The diaper derby has become a fixture of the annual KRAI Spring Expo. This year’s event, which takes place this weekend, will feature weenie dog races as well as 49 businesses and 13 nonprofit agencies.

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The diaper derby has become a fixture of the annual KRAI Spring Expo. This year’s event, which takes place this weekend, will feature weenie dog races as well as 49 businesses and 13 nonprofit agencies.

Annual KRAI Spring Expo slated to have most exhibitors ever

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If you go

What: 27th Annual KRAI Spring Expo

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way

— Times have changed, KRAI sales manager Vicki Gutierrez said, and in an economic recession, businesses have to evolve.

“If you continue to do business exactly the same way as 10 years ago, you’re going to struggle,” she said. “You have to be more aggressive with letting the community know what you do.”

Gutierrez said it’s for that reason the 27th Annual KRAI Spring Expo will be the largest it has ever been.

Forty-nine businesses and 13 nonprofit agencies will fill Centennial Mall from end to end.

From noon to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, booths will line the hallways, displaying products and services ranging from real estate to lawn and garden equipment, plumbing services to motorcycles.

Gutierrez said the drawing power of the event has created a unique opportunity for businesses to present themselves to the community.

“It’s just a way for businesses to showcase products and services to a lot of people in a short amount of time,” Gutierrez said. “If we have 4,000 people come through the mall in these two days, which is a rough estimate, that’s probably much more than people see in their businesses. It’s huge.”

She said most businesses aren’t selling products, but every booth will offer something interactive such as raffles, free samples, balloons and candy.

Gutierrez has worked for KRAI for 22 years, and she recalls a time when the expo was just a lawn and garden show.

“Twenty-two years ago, we had 12 exhibitors,” she said. “We had to spread them out so it would look busier than it was. We had to have it in the spring, but because of the weather, spring wasn’t really conducive to gardening.”

About 20 years ago, KRAI expanded the show to include all businesses, offering what Gutierrez said is an increasingly more important approach to business marketing.

“Because of the economy being what it is, people are becoming more creative and aggressive with their marketing,” she said.

About 10 years ago, a KRAI survey of participating businesses estimated the expo generated about a half a million dollars for all the businesses involved.

Aside from offering benefits for the exhibitors, the expo is also an opportunity for consumers to learn more about businesses from Denver to Vernal, Utah.

“It’s a chance to see the products without having to run all over the place to look a them,” Gutierrez said.

And then, of course, there are the weenie dog races and the diaper derby.

At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, a carpet will be placed on the floor and weenie dogs will race two by two.

At 11:30 a.m., parents will egg on their crawling tikes in a race to the outside of a circle.

Gutierrez said both events have become popular, as there are significant bragging rights at stake.

“We started the diaper derby about four years ago as a way to get families involved,” Gutierrez said. “Usually the happy babies just sit in the middle and wave and smile at the crowd.”

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