Family Outdoor Expo provides fun and a focus
Feb. 5, 2011 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 4, 2011 at 8:05 p.m.
Stretching her skinny limbs from foothold to foothold, Elizabeth Chesak scaled one of the four rock walls at the Family Outdoor Expo on Saturday afternoon like a professional.
That's because she pretty much is.
"Two years ago, we climbed here 30 times," the 13-year-old said.
"I went 32, I counted," her 10-year-old sister, Morgan chimed.
The sisters have been coming to the annual event for seven years, ever since their father, Brad Chesak, has been heading the Kidzone Activities.
The girls said they were excited to have an inside connection that sometimes allowed them off-the-clock climbing time.
"It was fun, and we got to help set up," Elizabeth said of their first year at the event.
"Now they just play; they don't help me," Brad Chesak teased.
But with so much to do - pony rides, fly fishing, kayaking, remote-control cars, archery stations, miniature golf and more - he doesn't blame them.
"It's part of an outreach to the community," Brad Chesak said of the expo. "Our dream to start out with was to create a strong, fun family day."
He said the free event has grown from about 1,500 its first year to nearly 8,000 last year. Thanks to loyal sponsors, the expo has been able to offer a growing number of attractions to a community that looks forward to exploring the many booths, games and food scattered about the Community Center each year.
That also means the organization that hosts the event, Man to Man Ministries, is able to reach a huge audience to share its message of faith. Throughout the sprawling event, with live worship music providing the soundtrack, attendees could interact with "all the amazing facts about God's creation," Brad said.
"Walking around, you can see what we're about," Brad said. "We want to create a good, fun, family day for families to connect, but we also want them to connect with God."
Meanwhile, Elizabeth repelled down the rock wall, and Morgan handed her sister dark-rimmed glasses similar to her own. The two laughed at, encouraged and seemed to enjoy each other's company as they wandered about the event, vowing to return to the wall for another go.
But first, they had a score to settle.
"She owes me popcorn cause I made it to the top. We had a bet," Elizabeth said.