Anyone who attended the Huntington County Senior Expo last year, or the year before, or the year before that, will pretty much know what to expect at this year's event on Thursday, May 23.
The expo will be held from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Merillat Complex fieldhouse on the Huntington University campus.
"We've got a good plan," says John Ulrich, assistant director of the Huntington County Council on Aging, which coordinates the expo. "People like it, so we try to recreate that experience every year."
That's not to say there won't be any changes. There are, and one of those changes reflects the swelling of the retirement ranks as the Baby Boomer generation grows older.
The boomers, Ulrich says, want to spend their retirement years at home - and they're generating an increased demand for services catering to that lifestyle.
"I've noticed a little increase in home health care businesses" signing up for booths at the expo, he says. "The home health care business is just exploding."
"That's the trend," adds Holly Saunders, the council's executive director. "People are trying to stay in their homes."
The home health care businesses account for some of the increase in the number of booths at the expo, which is expected to top 100 - a dozen or so more than last year - by the time the event opens. Some of those businesses have been on a waiting list for several years, Ulrich says.
The exhibitors offer information about services of interest to older residents and their families. The event's floor plan had to be revamped to accommodate the larger number of booths.
Two things that won't change are the free food and free entertainment.
Gordy Clements, an Elvis tribute artist, returns to this year's expo - the ninth annual - as both an entertainer and master of ceremonies.
"He's a real crowd-pleaser," Ulrich says. "The ladies just line up for him."
Dancers from the Parkview Huntington Family YMCA lead the entertainment line-up, bringing tap, jazz, clogging and ballet performances at 8:30 a.m. Country singer Judy Ann will present a tribute to Patsy Cline at 9:25 a.m., and the Crestview Middle School seventh grade band performs at 10 a.m.
Shade 'n' Shannon, new this year, will entertain at 10:40 a.m., and Senior line dancing is on tap at 11:30 a.m. The Huntington North High School Lime City Jazz band performs at 12:15 p.m.
Clements takes the stage at 1 p.m., and the Gotta Dance group will perform a ballroom dancing exhibition at 1:45 p.m. Joy Pleasers clowns will circulate throughout the day.
The first 500 visitors in line will receive a free breakfast prepared by Sodexo Food Services. The menu features an egg burrito and will be served from 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., or until 500 people have been fed.
Country Post restaurant will hand out a morning snack from 10 to 11 a.m.
Miller's Merry Manor will return as the lunch sponsor, handing out chicken salad croissant meals from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The afternoon snack is sponsored by KNR-Meadowvale, Bluffton.
Coffee from Inter-Continental Coffee will be available all day.
An estimated 12,000 to 13,000 people visit the expo each year, and Saunders doesn't expect it to be any different this year.
"It's free food, free entertainment," she says. "It's a fun day. People look forward to it."
Door prizes are awarded throughout the day, and those participating in the passport program are eligible to enter a drawing for one of 12 $50 gift cards at a local business. Anyone who visits at least half of the exhibitor booths and spends time learning about the business, receiving a stamp on the passport, is entered in the drawing.
Door prizes have been donated by Friends of the Library, Beacon Credit Union, First Federal Savings Bank, Parkview Huntington Family YMCA, American Red Cross, Family Life Care, Visiting Nurse, Swiss Village, Zahm Trailer Sales, River Terrace Estates, Huntington County Habitat for Humanity, OakbBrook Village, Timbercrest Senior Living Community, Grossnickle Eye Center,
Teachers Credit Union, Kingston Healthcare, First Farmers Bank & Trust, Walgreens, Parkview Home Health and Hospice, Southern Care, Scheerer McCulloch, ENT/The Hearing Center, Moor's Home Health, Premier Home Health Care, The Window Source, Hart Shoes SAS, Wall Legal Services and the Huntington County Council on Aging.
Anyone with unwanted or expired prescription medications can get rid of the drugs at the expo. Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel will set up a drug drop box just inside the fieldhouse entrance.
In addition, Huntington Fire Chief Tim Albertson will provide a safety officer to make sure the environment is safe for visitors and exhibitors.
Corporate sponsors for the 2013 expo are Autumn Ridge Rehabilitation Center, Coventry Meadows Healthcare, Humana MarketPoint Insurance, Huntington heating and Cooling, Markle Health and Rehabilitation, Miller's Merry Manor, Myers Funeral Homes, Norwood Health and Rehabilitation, Sodexo Dining Services and United REMC.
Since 1963, May has been observed as Older Americans Month. This year's theme is "Unleash the Power of Age."
Complete caption: Richard Hawley (left), president of the Huntington County Council on Aging, and Holly Saunders (second from left), the council’s executive director, accept gift certificates from Justin and Cynthia Wall, owners of the Opera Blcok Market, for use as door prizes at the Huntington County Senior Expo. The expo will be held on Thursday, May 23, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Huntington University fieldhouse.