CHICAGO (WLS) -- The country's largest exposition for Black women opened its doors for the weekend at Chicago's Mccormack Place.
"To be able to be to be back together in this space, at this time, to celebrate the beauty, the brilliance and the boldness of Black Women," said Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.
This year, the expo is celebrating its 26th year in Chicago, which would have been 27th had it not been for COVID canceling the event three times last year.
"It's been amazing, you know, that all of these businesses and all of the corporations came together to be a part of the show," said Merry Green, founder and creator of the Black Women's Expo. "But even more amazing that today would be the day that we have a mask mandate starting again."
Hundreds of people came to the first day of the Black Women's Expo Friday, with even more attendees expected throughout the weekend.
"I'm always excited to come out and see what new products are here and just see the sisterhood," said Paulette Henry.
Organizers said the Black Women's Expo will feature more than 400 exhibitors, national and local performers, panel discussions, as well as 40 different seminars and more.
"Great entertainment, fashion shows galore. Dance music, something for the young and old," Green said.
Green said one unique aspect this year is the focus on health and COVID protections, including testing.
"We even have a vaccination station here, never had that," she said. "There are five organizations that have come together to give out COVID vaccine, all three. If you don't have it, you can get it."
The weekend-long empowerment event has already made an impact on the first-time attendee, Johnrae Stowers.
"Just the energy, the love, the support," Stowers said. "We absolutely need support. We absolutely need to make sure that our Black businesses thrive and that we're here to stay."
For more information on the event, visit the Black Women's Expo website.