By C.J. McManus
Spring is in full bloom here in the Castle Country, and in 2021 that means the return of the annual AJB Broadcasting Home Garden and Outdoor Expo at the Carbon County Events Center. This month’s business spotlight focuses on both AJB Broadcasting and the event, which is set to kick off a summer season packed with productions that were largely postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. The expo will take place on May 14 and 15, smack in the middle of what promises to be an amazing weekend in the Castle Country.
The expo’s origins can be traced back to when the broadcasting company was purchased by local business owner Tony Basso. Basso, who owns a large group of companies locally, purchased both 100.1 FM and AM 1080 in 2009, continuing the group’s expansion and providing key components needed for effective local business proliferation.
“With the group of companies, we felt that local broadcast media would be a great acquisition,” he explained. “We also felt that operating a media company downtown would offer the opportunity to continue making Main Street the center of expansion in Price.”
According to Basso, the dynamics of downtown development is something to be focused on. For that reason, the station was moved to 6 East Main Street where it still broadcasts loud and proud today.
“A media company also provided the opportunity for massive community involvement,” he continued. “The impact broadcasting provides not only assists with business expansion, but also aids in forming community partnerships. Because of our access to the airwaves, we are able to help both for-profit and non-profit organizations.”
In 2018, Basso partnered with AJB General Manager Emily Wood, forming the team that now operates Jack FM 100.1 and True Country 104.9.
“Being a part of this organization was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up,” said Wood. “This station gives me a chance to be a part of growing the entire area’s business community.”
According to Wood, she saw the power that radio really had when COVID-19 hit the Castle Country.
“When health guidelines became a key issue, I saw just how much information we were able to get out every day and how vital that was to everyone’s safety,” she explained. “The whole of last year taught our crew that communication is community, and we are so proud to be a hub for local news and entertainment.”
For AJB, a big part of that entertainment is the sponsorship and organization of local events. To foster this, they have been promoting the Home and Garden Expo for more than a decade, giving businesses from across Eastern Utah the chance to get together and showcase just how much is available right here in the Castle Country.
According to AJB Broadcasting Sales Manager Jennifer Greener, the 2021 expo is poised to be the company’s biggest and most successful showing in the event’s 12-year history.
“I think this show is an excellent way for local businesses to highlight the products and services they provide,” she explained. “Every year, it’s so great to see this event come together.”
Beginning on May 14 at noon, the two-day event features over 50 vendors ranging from indoor and outdoor products to auto sales and outdoor recreation. Booths range from Harley Davidson to Carbon Emery RV, Big O Tires and Spa Bros. Decadent food options are always a major part of the event as well and Greener is over the top for this year’s selections.
“We have amazing food this year, including Crosscut Pub and Grill, Smokin Roadhouse Grill, KP Kitchens gourmet sandwiches and Laulu Family Teriyaki Bowls,” said Greener. “And, we have set them up in a separate location, creating a custom local food court for our patrons.”
According to AJB Office Manger Taylor Warnock, who has been a part of the expo for nine years, excitement for this year’s show has been unmatched.
“Both businesses and their customers are more than ready to have events back,” commented Warnock. “And, we have taken every precaution to make sure everyone has a good time and remains safe.”
Regarding the pandemic, AJB has worked closely with both the Carbon County Events Center and the Southeastern Utah Health Department to ensure that all remaining health guidelines are adhered to.
Staples at the expo include major prize drawings with over $5,000 in merchandise given away and vendor swag bags provided to the first 500 customers on both Friday and Saturday.
“We look forward to this every year as a way to provide our clients the opportunity to promote their business going into summer,” said Greener. “Local business is the heart of our community and this event gives everyone a chance to see what is available here in the Castle Country.”
The crew at AJB Broadcasting would like to invite the entire community to come out on May 14 starting at noon until 7 p.m. and May 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to support the businesses that support the Castle Country’s economy.