Black History Month Expo and Vendor Fair is hosted at Union Senior Center

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UNION, NJ — The township of Union presented its Black History Month 2024 Expo and Vendor Fair on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Union Senior Center. There were more than 40 vendors and Board of County Commissioners Chairperson Sergio Granados was in attendance.

Mayor Manuel Figueiredo offered welcoming remarks to a crowded room.

The Rev. Samuel Wright Jr. of the Union Chapel Church led a clergy prayer, followed by Rhyan McNeil singing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

There were also Carnival Dancers, a musical performance by Kahlil Bell and Friends, music by DJ Knyce and sensational tap dance performances by the Foreman Brothers, Jaden and Ellis, award-winning tap dancers who graduated from Union High School.

Wanda Brun, of Styled by Wanda B LLC, was selling accessories for men, children and women. “I love fashion,” she said. “I began as a fashion consultant.”

Fannilia Caines, owner and operator of Nillia’s Flair, was selling natural products inspired by her son. “When he was in his early teens, he tried different underarm deodorants. Nothing was happening. I wanted what was best for him.”

After attending an aromatherapy class, she gained knowledge and formulated her first deodorant. It was not only effective but had an easy glide. She began giving away her excess products as gifts. When she received incredible feedback, it encouraged her to start a business.

Chris Foreman, owner of E.S.F. Lifestyle, is a certified holistic nutritionist who sells herbal remedies and teas. “Anything that can help naturally,” he said. E.S.F. stands for “eat, sleep and fitness,” which Foreman believes are the tools to optimal health.

Justin Jay Dawes is an artist who draws caricatures. He has a bachelor’s degree in animation from Montclair State University. Growing up, he said he had a passion for cartoons and still does. “It gets me going. I’m amazed at reactions when I draw people.”

Audrey Powell, founder of SpiceGrove Roselle, offers signature flavor, all natural hibiscus drinks. The recipe is based on the heritage of the Caribbean. She said Roselle hibiscus has great antioxidant properties and reduces blood pressure. It also has phytochemicals, which help cholesterol management and liver health.

Mia Gutzmore is the owner of Mia G Cupcakes LLC, an online store based in Woodbridge. Gutzmore was a baker who decided to go into cupcake business during the pandemic, when she said cupcakes became popular. “Ideas grew from there,” she said.

Other local vendors in the lineup included Amara’s Caribbean BBQ, Crafts with Valerie, Grantham Notaries, Shop Kennedi’s Kloset, Beyond Yarn, GG ChiChi Boutique, Grandma Emma’s, Green Dog-Mobile, Urban Burger and Urban GLO.

Gloria Surles, a resident of Union, was there shopping for her granddaughter and herself. “It’s a wonderful event!” she said.

Photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta