When the Silicon Valley networking event Festiv’ALL started six years ago, about 300 people turned up, according to organizer and founder Dennis King. But on Wednesday evening, 2,500 people packed the San Jose Convention Center, swapping their cards with representatives from a myriad of business and cultural groups.
“We tried to be as inclusive as possible,” said King from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley, which organizes the event every year.
City and ethnic chambers of commerce, such as the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce, laced the aisles with promotional booths. Food vendors such and in Mountain View passed out free samples as long lines snaked around their tables.
The event has grown so much in scope that, “groups are starting to seek us out,” said King.
However, the composition of the event is also a reflection of a sour economy, he added. For example, the number of restaurant booths this year decreased from 38 to 28 -- largely because many went out of business.
Still, many new chambers and organizations signed up, resulting in more than 100 booths -- roughly on par with last year.
The Cupertino Chamber of Commerce set up a booth for the first time this year. “It was a fantastic event,” reflected Mark Matumoto, the government affairs specialist for the chamber. “We got the names and faces of many new people in our heads.”
“The event is so diverse,” added Joyce Clark from the Milpitas Chamber of Commerce, one of the event’s big promoters. “We met a lot of people interested in becoming members.”
For Anita Garcia from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley, it served as a way to meld together a wide range of interests under one large roof.
“It was a great way to bring the community together,” she said.