Food, entertainment, information on tap at 14th annual Senior Expo

Several members of the Alley Kats dance troupe, from Fort Wayne, perform a Mexican-themed tap number at last year’s Huntington County Senior Expo, at the Merillat Complex at Huntington University. The troupe will again be part of the entertainment for this year’s Expo, set for Thursday, May 24.
Several members of the Alley Kats dance troupe, from Fort Wayne, perform a Mexican-themed tap number at last year’s Huntington County Senior Expo, at the Merillat Complex at Huntington University. The troupe will again be part of the entertainment for this year’s Expo, set for Thursday, May 24. TAB file photo

At the Huntington County Council on Aging’s annual Senior Expo visitors will sit for the entertainment, sign up for door prizes and take home information from the more than 80 vendors in attendance. But it’s the food they line up for.

When the doors open to the 14th annual expo on Thursday, May 24, in the Huntington University Fieldhouse, breakfast will be waiting for the first 400 people who arrive, served up by Oakbrook Village and Tipton Place. The meal will be served from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.

A free lunch will also be served by Miller’s Merry Manor from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., also drawing a long line of hungry visitors. Miller’s Dietary Manager Anne Baught says the lunch will be worth waiting for, consisting of chicken salad croissant sandwiches, potato chips, pickle spears and sliced apples with caramel sauce. Baught will use about 70 pounds of chicken, 20 pounds of boiled, diced eggs, four gallons of mayonnaise, four gallons of sour cream, two gallons of pickle relish, 10 pounds of diced onions and 10 pounds of diced celery and seasonings to make the 700 servings of chicken salad sandwiches, which will be topped by a grape tomato.

Around 10 a.m. Steve and Pam Updike will provide cookies for a snack, and at 1:15 p.m. the Heritage Pointe Communities will give away ice cream treats.

Just about everything is free about the Senior Expo, from parking and admission to the door prizes and entertainment. Free shuttle service from the parking lot to the front door of the fieldhouse will be offered again this year, making every parking spot a “close” one.

More than 30 door prizes will be given away throughout the day, says HCCOA Assistant Director Dick Murray, and there will be a drawing at the HCCOA booth for two tickets to the 2018 Indiana State Fair on Aug. 7.

A “passport” that has 50 percent or more stamps from show vendors will also become an entry for one of 12 $50 gift certificates to be given away, Murray says.

“We’ve got over 80 exhibitors from financial services to funeral homes to new window people, and banks are here,” he adds. “A lot of the nursing homes are here.”

The vendors will also offer freebie “swag” goodies – those who get to the booths early get the best pick, while also collecting information of particular interest to Seniors.

Free medical screenings will also be offered on site by medical vendors, including a posture screening, blood pressure, weight, stress screens and oxygen checks. Visitors can also bring their unwanted prescription medications to drop off at the Huntington County Sheriff’s booth.

When it comes to entertainment, new this year is Cap’n Bob, the singing skipper of the Dixie Sternwheeler excursion boat in North Webster, who will sing some oldie-goldie hits for the crowd. His repertoire pulls from artists such as Frank Sinatra and Kenny Rogers and groups like the Four Freshmen.

“He’s originally from Huntington,” Murray says. “He does the oldies, some from a little way back, some from my generation. He does a wonderful job.”

Elvis Presley – also known as Gordy Clemens – will also return to thrill the audience, leaving some lucky members going home with his famous scarves around their necks. Shannon Persinger also returns to sign some high-energy tunes.

While many of the activities are repeats of previous years, Murray says there’s a good reason why visitors attend the expo year after year – besides the free food.

“Things change as we get older; we have new norms that happen,” he explains. “Sometimes they’ve not been on blood pressure medicine and now they are. Or sometimes they’ve got something else happening, or they’ve become a caregiver. So, there’s all kinds of information they can get.”