Outdoor expo offers children many first experiences (w/video, gallery)
Families got a taste of the outdoors on Saturday at the Family Outdoor Expo which was held for the first time at Son Valley Ranch. The free event featured fishing, rock wall climbing, a zip line, kayaking and other activities.
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Javier and Rachel Ospina, of Inez, stood at the pond's edge watching their children reel in their fishing lines.
"The outdoors offers a more realistic fishing experience than the community center - a pond instead of a tub," said Javier Ospina.
"The best part of this fishing is that the volunteers bait the hook and remove the fish for you," said Rachel Ospina.
The Victoria Community Center had served as the venue for the event that has attracted as many as 10,000 people in past years, said Glen Dry, coordinator for the Experience Excellence Ministry and lead pastor for Sportsman's Church.
"We've been getting ready for this event since we purchased the Son Valley property in May," Dry said. "The fish pond, kayaking in the pool and the 200-foot zip line are new this year."
Katelyn Kahanek, 8, kayaked for the first time in the giant swimming pool but preferred fly fishing, another first.
"I brought Katelyn for fun in a Christian environment," said her mother, Kerri Kahanek, of Victoria. "She loves the water and outdoor activities."
Volunteers taught Katelyn to make a keepsake fly fishing lure and to cast her line.
"I caught a trout," Katelyn said. "I touched a fish in the net."
Constance Kern, of Victoria, brought her children because they attended last year's event and looked forward to riding horses and petting the animals again.
"They get to try new things," she said. "It's an entertaining day without having to drive anywhere else."
The bumper boats were 3-year-old Alexis Kern's favorite activity.
Other offerings included concessions, miniature golf, playgrounds, disc golf and archery.
At 1:30 p.m., the line of vehicles waiting to turn into the event was 40-deep on U.S. Highway 87.
"We provide activities like climbing a rock wall and catching a fish for the first time that make children feel more courageous and confident than when they arrived," Dry said. "We give without asking for anything in return, and people walk away feeling blessed."