Shawnee parks and recreation hosting first children’s business fair

Photo credit Acton Children’s Business Fair

The city of Shawnee is inviting children and teens who run their own businesses to show off their entrepreneurial spirit at its first business fair for youth.

Shawnee Parks & Recreation is hosting its first KidsFest Business Fair from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 7.

“We want to see young people see that they can create opportunities for themselves in the world,” said Matt Mann, Shawnee recreation coordinator for youth and special events. “And what an opportunity for a 9-year-old kid to be able to do this.”

Youth ages 6 to 16 who are interested in promoting their business can apply for a booth space for $10. About 25 to 30 kid entrepreneurs can participate. Applications are due Monday, Aug. 5. Businesses can range from handmade items, artwork, baked goods or services.

Mann said several young entrepreneurs have already signed up, including a girl who sells slime and a girl who designs and sells women’s empowerment T-shirts.

Some of the applicants have been running their businesses for a couple of years, while others are just starting out and looking for a boost, Mann added.

“This is for kids that have a business; that trade show aspect is they will be here on site and selling,” Mann said. “It’s an opportunity for them to sell.”

Mann also wants to encourage adult entrepreneurs to come encourage their younger counterparts on their new entreprises.

“We’d just love people to come and give these kids a great experience for their first (time) selling their stuff,” he said.

There’s also an education component to the business fair; kids will get to present their ideas and get advice on their business plans. Parks and recreation staff noted that the goals of the fair are to help young entrepreneurs with “boosting their confidence, teaching valuable lessons and giving them an experience they will never forget.”

“This is something that’s been on my heart for a long time to do for several years, just with my work with kids,” Mann said. “This is really just one of those benchmark things I’m really excited about.”

Participants will develop a brand, create a product or service, and build a marketing strategy. After that, they will launch their own startup business for customers at this one-day market place.

Through the event, Mann hopes the community can “explore, engage and connect” with each other — part of their new tagline.

The event is sponsored by Acton Academy, the Acton School of Business and other donors and volunteers. All applications can be emailed to Matt Mann at