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A whole lot of sampling going on

Henry's Foods' customers who attended last Thursday's Pro Show could sample products from about 110 booths. (Photo by Al Edenloff)1 / 2
Kevin and Connie Lee Cunningham, owners of the Tennessee Roadhouse in Alexandria, were among the exhibitors at the Pro Show. The restaurant was promoting its three barbecue sauces. (Photo by Al Edenloff)2 / 2

A tantalizing array of food, from doughnuts to prime rib, was served up at the Runestone Community Center in Alexandria last Thursday - along with a big helping of economic impact.

Henry's Foods in Alexandria hosted its annual Pro Show, an event that's targeted toward vendors and Henry's Foods' customers, not the general public.

Henry's Foods is a wholesale distributor of food products, tobacco, disposable items and containers. Its customers include restaurants, bars, cafes, service stations, convenience and grocery stores in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. It primarily serves single-owner operators.

Vendors served samples of a wide array of food from soup to nuts and everything in between. Customers could then place orders right there at the site. About 110 booths were set up, many of them representing national food companies such as Hershey's, Mars and Tyson.

A few local food suppliers were also in the mix, including Rose City BBQ and Tennessee Roadhouse, which makes its own variety of sauces.

Henry's also offered its own branded food concepts, including Java Classics, Deli-MAX, Teco's Tacos and SlammerZ take-and-bake pizza.

The Pro Show, which has been running for more than 20 years, had been held in Brainerd for several years because Alexandria simply didn't have the space for it (the RCC wasn't available). The event returned to Alexandria last year. "This works out much better for us," said Dale Erickson, general manager of Henry's Foods.

The event carries economic clout. The attendees filled up more than 300 hotel rooms, Erickson said. He estimated the show brought in between 600 and 700 people.

Sara Stadtherr, executive director for Alexandria Hotel and Hospitality, is also glad to see the event back in Alexandria. "It's a good thing for our community to have back at home, supporting our local producer, Henry's, while they support multiple other providers," she said.

Henry's Foods first opened its doors in 1929. The company moved its headquarters from Morris to Alexandria in 1990.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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