TPWD News Release — Aug. 24, 2007
AUSTIN, Texas — America’s largest free, family-oriented festival of the outdoors takes place Oct. 6-7 at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department headquarters in Austin. The event includes a number of new offerings this year, while bringing back dozens of the popular activities which draw more than 35,000 visitors from across the state each fall.
“Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo is like the world’s fair for the great outdoors,” said Ernie Gammage with TPWD’s Urban Outdoors Program. “If you’ve never tried these activities, it’s a great chance to see and do it all in a safe setting with expert guidance. In everything, you’ll find a message of stewardship, the idea that we all have role to play in the conservation of the natural world.”
Several new activities will tempt visitors of all ages to the 16th annual Expo, including a number of special attractions.
One new offering this year is the Personal Watercraft Simulator, an interactive and educational device which employs technology similar to arcade video games. Visitors will strap on a life jacket, climb on, rev 'er up and head out on the water, threading obstacles as they zip along the coastline. It’s fun and challenging, and participants will learn a thing or two about boating rules and water safety.
On a related note, country rock music star Kevin Fowler comes to Expo for the first time this year, signing autographed posters in the popular Wet Zone kayaking area on Sunday. Kevin is the new celebrity spokesperson for the Nobody’s Waterproof™ boating safety initiative. Kevin’s an avid outdoorsman who understands that safety on the water is important if you want to keep coming back to have fun.
And for those experienced boater/anglers who are ready to step up and share the heritage, the Anglers’ Legacy program will be at the Expo for the first time. Launched in 2006 by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), this program urges avid anglers to share their passion by visiting AnglersLegacy.org, where they're asked to "Take the Pledge" and promise to take one new person fishing each year. In its first year, the program garnered nearly 10,000 pledges.
Today’s cities are crowded with families who would love to get outdoors, but lack the right skills and experience. With support from sponsor Academy, the new Family Camping Demonstration Site in the Camping and Outdoor Skills area will offer ongoing, informal instruction.
For families who like a minimalist approach that’s easy on the earth, the Leave No Trace program staff will also be on hand. Skilled volunteers will answer questions and demonstrate gear and skills for car camping, backpacking, outdoor safety and camp cooking, plus show visitors how to set up and use tents and other equipment.
Another first: geocaching at Expo. After a brief orientation, participants will be loaned Global Positioning Systems (GPS) units and will head out on the grounds to find cached items. This increasingly popular activity comes to Expo courtesy of Central Texas Geocachers.
For Spanish-speaking visitors, a new series of Outdoors 101 brochures translated into Spanish will be available at the International Pavilion. These cover how to get started in freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, camping and hunting.
Returning visitors will find perennial favorite activities such as the Birds of Prey Show by master falconer and raptor rehabilitator John Karger, who demonstrates the tie between mankind and the wild world with live eagles, hawks and other raptors in flight. These entertaining and educational shows take place at noon and 3 p.m. daily in the Birds of Prey Arena.
Also, SeaWorld’s Chris Bellows brings the popular “Amazing Animals” show to the Main Tent twice a day, with shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The Casting Kids activity in the Fishing and Aquatic area invites young people ages 7-to-14 to test their flipping, pitching and casting skills, learn about fishing, conservation and protection of the great outdoors and win prizes. Participants will also have a chance at competing for a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships and prizes to be given away nationwide.
All events on Saturday and Sunday are free, as are water and air-conditioned shuttle bus service and parking. Although food may be brought in, coolers are discouraged because of the long walk to the grounds. Special shuttles on site will serve people with disabilities. Sorry, no pets allowed. Visitors are advised to bring cameras and sunscreen, and a little cash can be handy to buy food or outdoor gear and Expo merchandise.
Expo remains free to the public through the support of major sponsors such as 100.7 KASE 101, Anheuser-Busch, HOLT CAT, Recuerdo, The Dow Chemical Company, Time Warner Cable and Toyota. Other sponsors include Academy Sports & Outdoors, ACM Tractor Sales, Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's, Careco Multimedia, Inc., Mossy Oak, Texas Gas Service, Arby's of Central Texas, Austin Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Boone & Crockett Club, Briley Manufacturing, Crosman Air Guns, Houston Safari Club, Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), Shikar Safari Club International Foundation, Temple-Inland, U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service and Weatherby Foundation International.
Out-of-towners looking for a place to stay can call the Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at (512) 478-0098 for hotel and motel information. To make reservations at a Central Texas state park, call (512) 389-8900 or book online.
There is limited free parking near the grounds, but the best way to get to the Expo is to catch a free shuttle bus at Highland Mall (Macy’s side) near I-35 and Highway 290. If rain shuts down on-site parking, all visitors must catch shuttle buses, which run from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
For more information about Expo, including maps and directions, visit the TPWD Web site or call (800) 792-1112.
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