Cheeping chicks may seem more appropriate for Easter than late January, but they provided some of the ambience Friday at the East Texas Outdoor Expo, especially in an area set up just for kids.
Members of the Gregg County 4-H Club were helping to provide information on the various programs they offer, said Alex Shook, county extension agent over 4-H and youth programs.
“Our goal is to promote awareness of 4-H and, hopefully, to increase the membership,” Shook said. “A lot of people associate us just with livestock projects. We still do have those — that’s what the chickens are illustrating — but that’s only part of what we do.”
In addition to watching the baby chicks hatch, children at the Hayes RV Center/Kids Adventure Camp section of the expo could practice their casting, shoot targets with a BB gun, make their own trail mix and get information on the junior master gardeners program.
Hunter Gibson, 9, was helping with the poultry project.
“We have chickens at home, but I’ve never seen so many hatch in one day before,” he said.
Leah Fyffe was at the expo with her husband, Brent, and their three sons; Hayden, 5, Keagan, 3, and Grayson, 1.
“We really enjoy a lot of these types of activities — fishing and camping and things like that,” she said, “So this is a good opportunity for us to come out and see what new equipment is available. It’s also a chance for the boys to get out and have some fun and practice outdoors-related skills.”
Hayden, who’d been practicing his casting, said the event helped him prepare for upcoming months.
“We go fishing a lot, but usually when it’s warmer,” he said.
Older kids also were finding things to interest them at the expo. Rachel DeLorme, 17, and her brother Samuel, 14, were staffing the 4-H Food & Nutrition booth.
“We’ve been part of 4-H for the past three years, and it’s really been a lot of fun,” Rachel DeLorme said. “You get to make new friends and do stuff different than what you’re used to. I’d really encourage teenagers, as well as younger kids, to come find out what it’s all about.”
Tammy Olsen, shooting sports coordinator for the Gregg County 4-H Club, said she was instilling the “safety first” motto in children who were doing the target shooting.
“Camping and other outdoor activities are very family-oriented, as is 4-H, so this is a good place for us to let people know what we offer,” Olsen said.
Missy Saunders, event director for the expo, said the activities offered for children this year are more hands-on and interactive than they have been in the past. She’s expecting about 6,000 people to attend during the three days of the event.
“We’re expecting to set a record, because everything is here in this one building or in the parking lot this year,” Saunders said. “There’s no going back-and-forth between different buildings.”
The gloomy weather of late January is perfect for the East Texas Outdoor Expo, she said, because this is the time of year when people begin thinking about upgrading their boating or camping equipment for the upcoming months.
The expo will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center, 100 Grand Blvd. Admission is $5 for adults and teens and free for children 12 and younger.