The youth of today are our future.

Students who have access to education, resources and avenues by which to learn about the world are better equipped for success.

After all, knowledge is power.

At New Milford High School, more than 30 students are learning about the role of business in their lives and in our society.

The Future Business Leaders of America chapter at NMHS is planning an April 27 event to serve as a community service project and a fundraiser for the group's activities.

The chapter has teamed up with the Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce to co-sponsor the first New Milford Spring Fair Days -- a trade show and craft fair.

Vendors are sought for the inaugural event.

"It's an awesome idea that they want to do this," said Chamber board member Bob Hanna. "The FBLA is taking something on that adults should have come up with a long time ago."

"The students are enthusiastic. There's a new energy with these kids," he said.

Mr. Hanna added he hopes the fair inspires some students to become business leaders in the community.

The event, which will be open to the public, will be similar to the Chamber-sponsored Village Fair Days held annually in July on the Village Green in that it will feature local craft, business and food vendors.

Yet there will be two major differences.

The event will be on a smaller scale and it will take place indoors in the gymnasium at New Milford High School along Route 7 South.

"I'd like to see a lot of local crafters -- like basket makers, jewelers" and business people and tradesmen, like electricians, plumbers and more -- participate, said local FBLA chapter advisor Janice Perrone.

The spring event will be held April 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Interested vendors will be asked to pay a $125 fee in advance. Reduced rates are available for school organizations and families of FBLA members.

Funds raised will support the FBLA's activities, in particular its participation in the FBLA spring leadership conference in the state in April -- this year held five days before the fair days -- and, if funds are left over, they would help defray costs of the group's trip to the national FBLA conference in the summer.

FBLA member Kyle Kellett said the group would like to raise $6,000 or more at the event.

"This will give the public an opportunity to learn about the businesses in town," Mr. Hanna said.

"I don't think the public realizes how many businesses we have. It's more than the village center. Consider all the home-based businesses. It's more than brick and mortar."

He emphasized some residents may not realize many local businesses provide products and services for which they would normally call a larger company.

"For example," he said, "you don't have to call the 800 number for an appliance repair because we have a business in town that does that."

The FBLA is using resources from the Chamber, including the list of local Village Fair Days vendors, as a starting point to invite businesses and groups to the spring fair.

Other vendors are welcome, too, and may learn more by contacting Ms. Perrone or the Chamber by March 15.

"I'm hoping to forge connections with businesses," said senior Michelle Lin of her personal goal for the fair.

"I hope to meet people and learn a lot about the community."

Ms. Perrone said she hopes students who attend the fair will "take advantage of the expertise in the community" and perhaps even make connections that could lead to references and jobs in the future.

Furthermore, she said, she wants "everyone to be proud and have the event be such a success that people will talk about it and wonder when it will be held again."

"It will be a great legacy to say we got this off the ground," Ms. Perrone said.

As a senior, chapter member Anna Lin said she hopes the fair will be a success and turn into an annual event underclassmen can continue.

Senior Ryan Carmellini emphasized how a successful event depends on the number and the diversity of the vendors, and overall attendance.

Initially, the FBLA thought about sponsoring a craft fair but, after contacting the Chamber, which had looked into sponsoring a business showcase, the two groups decided to team up and expand the concept of the fair.

"We're taking what we know and giving it a name" in hopes the fair will raise more awareness of the FBLA's presence in the school and community, according to junior Sara Artese.

For information or to become a vendor at the spring fair, email, call Ms. Perrone at 860-350-6647, ext. 2121, email the Chamber at or call the Chamber office at 860-354-6080 by March 15.


Janice Perrone

New Milford High School chapter adviser of the Future Business Leaders of America.