POINT PLEASANT — A ventriloquist, games, prizes and snakes topped the events Thursday at the annual Mason County Outdoor Youth Expo.
The event concludes Friday at the National Guard Armory in Point Pleasant.
Sponsored by Pleasant Valley Hospital, the expo is divided into four sessions, with students from New Haven, Point Pleasant Intermediate, Ashton, Leon, Roosevelt and Beale elementary schools attending. The expo is also open to the public and will conclude Friday at 2:30 p.m.
Children had the opportunity to attend a show by Mark Wade, ventriloquist. Using puppetry, Wade teaches lessons on self-esteem with Terrence the Turtle. “I’m Somebody Special,” Terrence told the group, relating that they are special too, and that “to have friends, you have to be a friend.”
One of the more popular events of the expo is one done by Roy Moose, of “Snakes Alive.” Moose teaches the students about the 20 species of snakes in West Virginia, which are poisonous, and how to tell the difference.
All eyes are on Moose as he brings out a live timber rattlesnake, as well as a copperhead. Later, the children are allowed to hold the smaller, non-poisonous snakes in the exhibit.
Moose, a retired teacher, represents the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center. Telling the children he has been bitten by both a rattlesnake and copperhead, he relates that a snake’s venom “tastes salty and looks like Mountain Dew.”
Following drawings for prizes, including six bicycles at each session, the students visit displays set up by many organizations and businesses. All the children take home items like pencils, flying discs, stickers, plants and First-Aid kits.
Randy Searls serves as the emcee during the event. Expo committee members are Dave McClung, George Shell, Greg Martin, Jack Cullen, Joann Cullen, Leigh Ann Shepard, Lorrie Wright, Nicole Leport, Paul Nichols, Randy Searls, Rodney Wallbrown, Sarah Roush and photographer Ed Lowe.
Among the displays set up are from Andrea’s Army, Coventry Cares of West Virginia, Department of Agriculture Communication Division, FFA Chapter, ICL Industrial Products, Johnna Jorgensen D.D.S., Mason County 4-H, WVU Extension Service, Mason County CEOS, Mason County Convention and Visitor Bureau, Mason County Health Department, Mason County Library, Mason County Prevention Coalition, Mason County Solid Waste Authority, Monarch Butterflies, Ohio Valley Bank, Pleasant Valley Hospital, Point Pleasant River Museum, Relief Carving, River Works Discovery, Snakes of WV Forest Service, Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, The First Tee WV, Thomas Do-It Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture, WV Department of Agriculture Animal Health Division, WV State Parks Tu-Endie-Wei State Park, and WVDNR Operations Center’s wildlife diversity Program.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.