Everything from hot sauce and candy to jewelry and art will be showcased at the 5th Annual "Made in Monmouth" expo this Saturday in the MAC at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.

Monmouth University (Photo courtesy of Monmouth University via Facebook)

Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said what started out as a way to help small businesses market their home-grown products continues to become more popular each year.

"Did we know it would turn out to be the way it is today? Absolutely not," said Arnone, expressing his enthusiasm for this year's event which he said will feature 242 businesses, some that are now established, such as Rook Coffee, and some that are just starting up.

"We have this new business there this year called Round Two creations, where they recycle material then use it for home building, whether it's wood, signs or different types of furniture. We have Carolyn's Crystal Creations. There's Born to Hula, it's a hot sauce and salsa jerky that you would never know that this was made here in Monmouth County," Arnone said. He added, "Chocolate Sage, where these truffles that probably people buy everyday, is made here in Monmouth County."

Arnone noted that it's amazing to see how many products are actually made locally, making it unnecessary to shop outside of Monmouth County. He also pointed out that while government is often looked at in a negative way, this is something positive county government is doing to show its support for small businesses and that the County needs them.

Among the vendors featured will be grammar school students from Asbury Park participating in the County's Junior Entrepreneur Training (JET), that Arnone said teaches kids how to operate a small business from the ground up and the challenges involved. Students are given loans that they must pay back with profits made from selling their products at the expo.

More than 4,000 people are expected to attend Saturday's free event, according to Arnone.

"Some of the businesses that come to this event say this is there best Saturday," said Arnone.

The "Made in Monmouth" expo takes place between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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