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BBQ & Black Business Expo offers business owners fun, food, fellowship – Mansfield News Journal

Walter Bonham of The Food Lab catered a meal Friday night at the BBQ & Black Business Expo at the NECIC Urban Farm, 311 Bowman Street.

Rhonda Sylvester of Flippin’ Good Seasonings was among the Black business owners who set up a table Friday night at the BBQ & Black Business Expo at the North End Community Improvement Collaborative Urban Farm, 311 Bowman St.

She said she came up with the idea for a new seasoning business during the coronavirus pandemic instead of trying to open up a restaurant, which is expensive and difficult to operate during a pandemic.

“A lot of people were cooking at home,” she said. “This can enhance any ready-to-eat food.”

Sylvester, who has worked in the food industry since she was a 12-year-old attending Hedges School, said her parents got sick and, being the oldest, she cooked for her younger siblings.

She graduated from Augusta Escoffer School of Culinary Arts.

Her seasoning products can be purchased at

“On the side it says, ‘Move over salt and pepper,'” she said of her containers.

Rhonda Sylvester of Mansfield shows off her Flippin' Good Seasonings at the BBQ & Black Business Expo Friday night at the NECIC Urban Farm, 311 Bowman St. She created her new business during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s no right or wrong way to cook anything. This product makes food taste better, even restaurant food,” she said.

Her motto for the products?

“It ain’t good until it’s Flippin’ Good,” she said.

Stacey Young of Mansfield was promoting her Paparazzi jewelry business. She is an independent consultant.

In business for three years, Young said prices start at $1 for children’s jewelry and $5 for basic pieces for adults.

“I heard about the expo and decided to sign up,” she said.

More:U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown visits urban farm in Mansfield hometown

Christole Harris, the owner of Lorine’s Little Learners Child Care Learning Center, 276 Harker St., said infants 6 weeks and older up to 8 years old can come to the childcare center from 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays.

In business for five years, Harris said she was glad to get out and let people in the community know about her business on a wonderful, sunny Friday.

“I’m also a notary and a CPR instructor,” said Harris.

Pam Rembert of God’s Will Christian Outlet, a Christian bookstore and boutique at 624 Glendale Ave., said she’s owned the shop for 11 years and also likes to stay active helping others in the community. She is already working on Thanksgiving and Christmas food and gift giveaways for those in need.

Friday night, she said the ribs were excellent.

“I like the fellowship,” she said.

Matt Ayers of NECIC was offering everyone free food, including mac and cheese, baked beans, chicken, ribs and coleslaw outside the wash pack station at the urban farm.

Deanna West-Torrence, executive director of the North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC), showed visitors the new, on-site community composting station where individuals and businesses can drop off their food scraps.

West-Torrence said people are given a bucket-like container and take them home and bring the NECIC Urban Farm their food scraps.

“And we just swap out the buckets. They can just bring it here and drop it off at the farm,” she said. There are larger buckets for restaurants to use.

“What it does is it helps us cut down the cost of us having to amend our own soil,” she said.

West-Torrence said the NECIC Urban Farm received a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to do the project, which includes two concrete pads at the Bowman Street site.

She said Fred Michel at the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster taught everyone how to compost.

“He’s a composting guru,” she said.

West-Torrence said the event is usually held at the NECIC building downtown as a social get-together, but it was moved to the urban farm on a warm September evening to enjoy the outdoors.

The urban farm consists of three micro farms, which make up the Richland Gro-Op. The Richland Gro-Op grows vegetables for local restaurants, hospitals and other institutional customers.

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