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BELLEVILLE - Shannon Stelling with the Home Builders & Remodelers Metro East Association gave some early insights into the biggest Home Expo on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. Featuring over 100 vendors, giveaway prizes, products, info, and more for homeowners, the Expo is set for the weekend of March 8-10, 2024.

The 2024 Home Expo will be free to attend and will also have free parking available. The event will be held at the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds & Expo Center in Belleville. Stelling said the venue is undergoing an extensive remodel this spring to make it a more family-friendly venue and draw more traffic to the area.

Stelling said the Home Expo is the perfect place for homeowners to “get back out there” to see products and have conversations with experts in-person.

“The Expo gives them an opportunity to talk to a lot of experts in the industry, see the cutting-edge products that are available to homeowners,” Stelling said. She added the Expo has helpful resources whether you’re building a new home or upgrading your current home.

The Home Builders & Remodelers Metro East Association has partnered with the Belleville Area Humane Society to facilitate pet adoptions all weekend long at the Home Expo. Attendees who bring dog food, cat food, and/or treats to the Expo will get a second entry into the drawing for several giveaway prizes - Stelling said they’ll be giving away one prize every hour the Expo runs, with each prize valued at $50 or more, as well as a “very large ticket item” at the end of the Expo on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

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2024 will bring something all-new to the Home Expo - youth performances from local schools, dance teams, karate classes and more. Stelling said any talent-related group or program that local kids are involved in are welcome to perform at the Expo, and there are still plenty of slots available to sign up - for more information, contact the Home Builders & Remodelers Metro East Association office at 618-343-6331 or on their website.

It's important to get local youth involved not only in the Home Expo, but in the trades themselves - Stelling said there’s a strong need for skilled tradespeople, so she’s thankful for the recent “uptick” in school trade programs.

“It’s kind of making a comeback right now, and it has to,” Stelling said of the trades. “Vocational programs are on the uptick again, thank goodness.”

She added that in the state of Illinois, the median age of people in the trades is around 54-56 years old, and most of them will be retiring within 10 years, underscoring the need for a new generation of tradespeople.

“Carpenters, electricians, plummers, roofers, drywallers, trim carpenters - you name it, there is a demand and a need right now,” Stelling said. “There [are] so many amazing programs in Illinois that are in existence or being developed as we’re talking.

“We’ve got to bring some focus to it … let kids know the opportunities, the kind of money they can make, the job security they can have.”

For more information about next year’s Home Expo, contact the Home Builders & Remodelers Metro East Association at 618-343-6331 or visit their website. The full interview with even more info from Stelling is available at the top of this story or on RiverBender.com/video.

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