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Annual Great Outdoor Family Expo begins Friday at Fairgrounds Y

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Organizers of the annual Great Outdoor Family Expo hope new vendors will help entice thousands of people to attend the show, which begins today at the Fairgrounds Y.

New this year is a mechanical bull, Army Reserve members offering children’s activities, and seminars on food plots and wildlife habitat and fishing techniques on Lake Ontario.

“It’s kind of evolved from a true outdoors show to having activities, sports and stuff for everyday living,” said Howard W. Ganter, event chairman.

A total 76 vendors will utilize nearly 15,000 square feet of space at the Y, 585 Rand Drive. Mr. Ganter said the show would not be possible if it weren’t for sponsorship from Waite Toyota.

The show is open from 4 to 8 p.m. today, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Vendors will showcase products and services ranging from hunting and fishing to dog treats and scuba diving. Mr. Ganter said the mechanical bull ride will cost $5 for two attempts, and rides will be tailored to individual riders, depending on age. Representatives from the Fort Drum Fish and Wildlife Management Program will also be there to issue hunting and fishing permits for Fort Drum.

As much interest about gun control and the NYSAFE Act as there has been, Mr. Ganter said, those issues shouldn’t come up during the show because there will be no gun dealers there. Those dealers typically attend a similar Rotary-sponsored show in Clayton each year.

Proceeds of the outdoor show will benefit several of Watertown Noon Rotary’s projects, including tree planting, scholarships to Jefferson Community College, revamping the fitness trail at Thompson Park, interactive clubs at local high schools, and international projects such as building wells, providing shelter boxes and helping the One World Foundation.

The show raised $16,941 last year, which was about $4,000 less than in 2011. Mr. Ganter said that was attributed to smaller attendance due to good weather, basketball tournaments and early fishing. He said he’s hoping the cold, snowy weather attracts more people to go indoors for the outdoor expo, as the 2013 show’s goal is to raise $18,000.

Admission to Watertown Noon Rotary’s largest fundraiser is $4 for people ages 12 and up. There is no charge for children ages 11 and under. As an Operation Yellow Ribbon event, there will be a discount for military members.

For more information, visit the show’s website, www.greatoutdoorexpo.com.

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