Something for everyone (and free, too)

Pope County Community Expo set for April 8 at Minnewaska Area High School

The Minnewaska High School gymnasium and commons area will be filled with booths representing a wide range of businesses in the area. Contributed photo

Thousands of people are expected for this year’s Pope County Community Expo, coming Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Minnewaska Area High School (located halfway between Glenwood and Starbuck).

“The high school will be buzzing,” said Kay Blauert, Glenwood Welcome Center executive director and Expo committee member.

The Pope County Community Expo is one of the larger free events in the area, with 175+ exhibitors and several demonstrations and shows on the schedule.

“It is designed to have something for everyone,” said Scott Formo, executive director of the Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, and Expo board member.

The Pope County Community Expo was originally formed after discussions at the chamber took place on how to better promote businesses in the area.

“We have a regular Salute to Business & Industry program where we honor one business a year,” said Formo, “We wanted to be able to promote all of our businesses. We talked about a business expo, but it grew into a format that would not only promote business, but also have family-friendly events, health/fitness demonstrations, a food court and on-site entertainment.”

The formula has worked, and the event continues to grow and evolve.

Headlining this year’s entertainment is the Teddy Bear Band, a family-friendly four-piece live band that has been entertaining audiences for more 30 years (and more than 7,000 shows). The Teddy Bear Band includes lots of audience participation and interaction, and they promote a positive sense of self through their music.

Kids are encouraged to bring their teddy bears (optional) to the show. They will also have an opportunity to make a teddy bear prior to the show.

“Janet Fossen of Brandon (Clueless the Balloon Twister) will be presenting three workshops called “Stuff-N-Fluff FUNshop,” where the kids will be able to make their own teddy bear,” said Formo, “And it is all free.”

Headlining this year’s Pope County Community Expo is the Teddy Bear Band, a live band that encourages plenty of audience interaction. The group, which is family friendly, has been performing for more than 30 years and has continues to promote a positive message during their shows. Contributed photo

“This will take place right before the Teddy Bear Band,” said Kay Blauert, “Workshops are limited to 33 kids per workshop, first-come, first-serve.”

Erickson’s Petting Zoo, of Osakis, will be on hand with with a variety of animals for the young and the young at heart to enjoy from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Each year the Pope County Community Expo honors a different group of individuals (educators, emergency services, veterans, etc.) or has a theme (last year was the history of Pope County). This year, they are honoring local artists. Up to seven artists will have their works on display in the high school media center. Artists being honored include Joshua S. Lish (canvas painting), Laura Backhaus (rustic painting), Molly Fitzgerald (acrylic/watercolor/charcoal), Courtney Grammentz (digital photography), Faythe Mills (pastels, watercolor, acrylic, pencil, inkwash, pen & ink & woodcuts), Hoofprints of Hope (crafts & horse themed products), and a group of girls calling themselves 5 Girls & a bucket of Pearl (polymer clay, knitting and jewelry). That group includes Abby, McKenna and McKenzie Leutmer and their friends.

A photo booth will be provided by MediaWorks Productions for people to use free of charge. The booth uses green screen technology so people can choose their own backgrounds and props. All photos taken throughout the day will be free.

Free demonstrations/presentations will be held throughout the day, including:

• Meditation session by Nancy Young, at 9:30 a.m.

• “Pheasants Forever: Past, Present, and Future” by JB Bright, Glacial Ridge Pheasants Forever, 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

• Stand Up Paddleboard Demonstration by Hangloose, in the high school pool, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

• “Starting Out: Fishing for Kids,” by Nancy Koep, at 10:15 a.m.

• “Listen To Your Legs,” Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Seminar by Glacial Ridge Health System, at 11 a.m.

• “Veterinary Integrative Medicine – The Best of Both Worlds!” by Dr. Jean Hollenstein, owner of Glacial Ridge Veterinary Clinic, P.A, at 2:15 p.m. Dr. Hollenstein has practiced small animal medicine and surgery in central Minnesota since 1988. She has studied holistic therapies extensively and finds the integration of Western medicine with other modalities such as traditional Chinese medicine homeopathy, and osteopathy (manual therapy) to be the greatest benefit to her patients.

One of the popular areas for the kids is the auxiliary gym, where several inflatables are set up. All activities and demonstrations at the Pope County Expo are free. Contributed photo

Other notable activities in the Expo include kids’ inflatables (9:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m.), glitter tattoos and the Masonic Lodge KidsID program, all free.

“We try to get different things in there every year to bring families in,” said Blauert.

“There will be things to do indoor and out,” said Formo. “No matter what age you are, there is something for you at the Pope County Community Expo.”

There are a few things you can purchase, including lunch from several food vendors and items from a few retail booths, but everything else is free.

“Everyone also gets a free folding shopping tote bag while supplies last, just for coming,” said Blauert.

“And there are a lot of giveaways and drawings at the booths,” said Formo.

Formo added that some booths are still available for businesses in the area.

“We have a lot of booths taken, but we do have room for more exhibitors, and we offer several different size booths,” he said. “Exhibitors do not have to be Pope County businesses.

Those businesses that are Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber members are entitled to get a 50 percent discount on their booth as part of their membership benefits, he added.

Erickson’s Petting Zoo will have several animals on hand during the day. Contributed photo

With thousands of people expected for this year’s event, the Pope County Community Expo will make use of just about every area of the high school, including the auditorium, both gymnasiums, the wrestling room, hallways, classrooms and cafeteria.

With all the people coming and going, parking can be a challenge. But the committee has worked hard to relieve any parking issues.

“There will be multiple shuttle park and ride locations in both Glenwood and Starbuck,” said Formo. “Besides shuttling from the park and ride locations, there will also be a Rainbow Rider bus transporting people exclusively in the high school parking lot.”

In addition, there will be volunteers and gators on hand to help exhibitors with loading and unloading.

The Pope County Community Expo takes about eight months of planning by a committee. That group includes Marsha Wold, Joanna Curry, Jennifer Chan, Lloyd Campbell, Mike Claunch, Larry Disrud, Scott Formo, Kay Blauert, Jeannie Pederson and Christine Olschlager.

For more information about the Pope County Community Expo, or to learn more about exhibiting at the Expo, contact Scott or Kay at 320-634-3636 or email The Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber and Welcome Center is located at 7 First Street NW, Glenwood, MN 56334. Learn more at

#MinnewaskaAreaHighSchool #PopeCountyExpo

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