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Carroll County’s Drug and Violence Expo going virtual, allowing access to information ‘all year long’

Like many pandemic events, the Drug and Violence Awareness Expo will be held virtually this year. But with the new online platform, this year’s event could be more beneficial to the community and others around the world.

This year’s expo, hosted and run by Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, starts on Thursday and is fully online. But it is not a live event. At 12 a.m. late Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning, pre-recorded speeches, demonstration videos and dozens of exhibits will be available at


Joe Tabeling, chairperson for the business education committee, said the new platform does two things: expands the education information and expands the audience.

Carroll’s Drug and Violence Awareness Expo is an annual event, aside from the canceled event last year, to educate the community on drug and alcohol abuse, prevention and recovery, drunk driving, sexual assault and suicide prevention. This year, a few topics including vaping and cyberbullying were added. It also included speakers and exhibits from Carroll’s State’s Attorney’s Office, health department and law enforcement.


Tabeling started the expo about seven years ago. It brought in a few hundred people and later grew to 3,000 attendants.

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He said after adjusting the event due to the pandemic and speaking with the school system, they “decided to make a website that everybody would have access to all year long.” It would expand exposure beyond the single day event, he added.

“Prior to COVID, there was no online presence for the expo,” Tabeling said. “It was just simply information students retained when they came to the event.”

Health teachers from the school system will use the site for their own lessons, he said.

Tom Hill, director of middle schools for CCPS, said he brainstormed with Chamber of Commerce officials about what education tool could be put together. Hill said the eighth-graders have been attending the expo for the past few years and had a chance to see only one speaker. The website gives them access to all speakers, Hill added.

Hill said he can see this site being used for years to come. It’s an in-class resource and “another tool we’ll have to use,” he added.

Tabeling said people outside of Carroll have shown interest in the event since there’s nothing else like it in the country. Even those outside the country. A couple years ago, he said, a group of Iranian doctors planned to attend one of the expos but had trouble with transportation. Tabeling said he’s kept in touch and the same group is excited to access the website. He also noted a former mayor in Cecil County is sharing the event with a group he’s associated with in New Jersey.

Tabeling said the online platform will continue even after the pandemic, and next year’s expo will have a hybrid style with in-person and online events and information.