Sheri Cannataro, of Cannataro Farms, demonstrates the gear she wears to extract honey from a bee hive for visitors who stopped by to see her products at the Hills Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Expo Saturday at Conrady Junior High School in Hickory Hills. (Photos by Joe Boyle)

Sheri Cannataro, of Cannataro Farms, demonstrates the gear she wears to extract honey from a bee hive for visitors who stopped by to see her products at the Hills Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Expo Saturday at Conrady Junior High School in Hickory Hills. (Photos by Joe Boyle)

Residents warm up to Hills Chamber Business Expo

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Members of the Palos Hills police greeted residents during the 10th annual Hills Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Expo.

By Joe Boyle

Spring has arrived but winter continues to leave its calling card.

However, that did not prevent the Hills Chamber of Commerce from holding its 10th annual Business and Community Expo Saturday at Conrady Junior High School in Hickory Hills.

While the temperatures were frigid and windy outside, the spirit inside the school gym was warm and friendly.

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Micah Rademacher demonstrates a takedown of his son, Morgan, during a demonstration for Center for the Martial Arts of Palos Hills Saturday. 

“We have had a good turnout,” said Phyllis Majka, president of the Hills Chamber of Commerce. “It has been really going well. A lot of people are excited to be here and see each other again.”

Just over 50 exhibitors were on hand for the Expo. A steady flow of residents and community leaders stopped by the event, including Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett and Hickory Hills Mayor Mike Howley.

Bennett said he enjoys visiting the Expo and mentioned that the park that bears his name in Palos Hills will offer a lot to the community this spring and summer.

“A lot will be going on at the park,” Bennett said. “The (Green Hills) library will be offering activities for kids and families. We have come such a long way. It’s been over 25 years since we started working on the park. I guess if you are patient, good things will happen.”

A wide range of exhibitors and vendors were featured at the Expo. Robert Garza, who owns and operates A Center for the Martial Arts in Palos Hills, greeted residents and the curious. Garza will be at his current location for three years in June. He provides martial arts training for all age groups.

“Everything is going well,” Garza said. “We have a come a long way from the pandemic. But the number of kids coming in has increased. We just want to attract more adults.”

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Members of the Hills Chamber of Commerce greet residents who attended the Business and Community Expo Saturday at Conrady Junior High School in Hickory Hills. Chamber members present were (back row, from left) Teresa Stack, secretary; and Georgia Vouris, vice president; and Art Golden, treasurer; and Phyllis Majka, president. 

Micah Rademacher was one adult who was interested. He put on an exhibition of martial arts training with his son, Morgan, 13, and daughter, Rowan, 10. Micah is a librarian for the Blue Island Library.

“I know it seems different that I do this and I am a librarian,” Rademacher said. “But I’m also a retired firefighter.”

The Secretary of State Mobile Unit representatives attended the Expo to provide residents who arranged ahead of time to obtain driver’s licenses and IDs.

A wide range of small businesses, community resources, crafters, and vendors filled the gym. Representatives of the Hickory Hills and Palos Hills police departments attended, along with members of the North Palos Fire Protection District and the Roberts Park Fire Department.

Other businesses and institutions in attendance were the 160 Truck Driving School in Palos Hills, Cannataro Farm, the Green Hills Public Library, Palos Township, and Pillars Community Health in Hickory Hills.

Janet Gatz, adult services director for the Green Hills Library, said they will have plenty of activities for kids and adults this spring and summer.

“We have a lot to offer,” Gatz said of the library that is located in Palos Hills but also represents Hickory Hills. “We have the free Little Free Blockbusters that offers free movies and games. We also have a brand-new location at Vito & Nicks II of Hickory Hills and Strange Brew.”

Gatz said they share with patrons discarded DVDs, Blu-rays, and video games through the Little Blockbusters program.

Sheri Cannataro, of Cannataro Farms of Marengo, produces and sells agricultural products, including handmade goats milk soap, sheep wool, and honey. She talked to visitors about the importance of eating healthy foods.

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Palos Hills Police Chief Jeff Cucio (from left) and Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett attended the 10th annual Hills Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Expo.

Cannataro also put on her protective gear she wears in extracting honey from bee hives.

“This is good for the environment and healthy, Cannataro said. “We are doing our part. It takes a village.”

Along with Majka, other representatives of the chamber on hand were Georgia Vouris, vice president; Art Golden, treasurer; and Teresa Stack, the secretary who also serves as communications director for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Majka said there are several events coming up for the chamber in the future. But the organization is preparing next for the Hills Farmers Market, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Friday beginning June 7 through Sept. 27.

The Hills Farmer Market will once again be held in the Hickory Hills City Hall parking lot, 8652 W. 95th St.

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Janet Gatz, of adult service at the Green Hills Library, was on hand to inform residents about programs offered at the facility during the Hills Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Expo.

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