26th Annual Black Women’s Expo Features Record Number of Vendors, Sponsors

Black Women’s Expo (BWe NEXT), the country’s largest exposition for Black women in the country, kicks off Friday, August 20 – 22 at McCormick Place with more than 400 exhibitors, a 3-day line-up of national and local performers, panel discussions, seminars, youth and senior activities, cooking demonstrations and even a pavilion dedicated to men’s interests. This weekend of fun and diverse activities offers something for attendees of all ages and is being supported by scores of sponsors, both longstanding and newcomers.

BWe Next founder Merry Green admits to getting emotional about the level of support being displayed by the business and non-profit community as well event goers.

“The countless words of encouragement and sponsorship commitments definitely raised my spirits,” said Green, who’s show has been canceled three times since 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19. “We are so grateful to our loyal corporate partners like Walgreens, iHeart Radio, ABC7 Chicago and Verizon and ecstatic to welcome a wave of first-time sponsors including Chase Bank, Wal-Mart, Groupon and the OWN Network. I must admit my surprise as the calls came in from national brands saying, ‘We want to participate in BWe Next!’”

The original number of exhibitors has ballooned from just over 300 to almost 450. Fortunately, the festivities have been relocated to McCormick’s largest hall where the Chicago Auto Show is hosted annually.

“I am so thankful to the team at McCormick for offering a larger space,” said Green. “We’re able spread out as well as add more exhibitors and activities.”

Traditionally, one of the biggest draws to BWe Next is the entertainment. This year is no different. Performers gracing the stage this weekend include RocNation Recording Artist Dixson, GRAMMY-nominated “Superwoman” Lil Mo, House Music Legend Crystal Waters, and R&B Kings After 7. The BWe Next team has also crafted a series of performances that include contestants from the national television program “The VOICE,” and a host of millennial phenoms who are set to hit the stage daily.

BWe Next will open with an official ribbon-cutting Friday at 9:30 a.m. with city officials, corporate sponsors, media, elected officials and other dignitaries in attendance.

In years past, a gala was held the night before the start of the Black Women’s Expo to salute a select group of Phenomenal Women. This year, the 11 honorees will be featured on the main stage Friday at 4:00 p.m. and lauded for their many accomplishments in various disciplines. The ceremony will be followed by a private reception where the ladies can fellowship, network and take photographs.

“What would a Black Women’s Expo be with our paying tribute to phenomenal Black women?” said Green. “Our place in society is paramount and cannot be overlooked.”

Tickets to BWe Next are available for half price at Walgreens stores in Chicagoland. For more information about sponsors, tickets, parking, seminars and performances, visit www.BWeNext.com.

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