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PONCA, Neb. — The Cornhuskers easily outran the Jackrabbits in Lincoln. In Ponca, however, the Lumberjacks chopped down the Huskers. The Raptors hunted them down, the Kayakers dunked them, the Anglers snagged them and the Shotgunners powdered them. On a sun-splashed Saturday at the ninth annual Missouri River Outdoor Expo, thousands of people poured into Ponca State Park to take part in hands-on demonstrations, exhibits and activities on hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, bird dog training, game calling, firearms safety, shooting sports, kayaking, camping, outdoor cooking, wildlife art, outdoor survival and more. About 150 people were face to face with falcons, hawks and a bald eagle at a raptor demonstration. A spillover crowd of 300 watched two lumberjacks square off in ax-tossing and other woodland competitions. Hundreds more were paddling kayaks, learning how to cook over a campfire or shooting rifles and tossing tomahawks. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission organizers said the expo could beat last year’s attendance record of more than 50,000 people for the two-day event. Behind all the free fun and 80 different activities is a big target: preserving the future and heritage of natural resources and outdoor recreation by introducing or rekindling interest in camping, fishing, hunting, bird-watching and other activities, said Jim Swenson, a regional parks manager for the commission. And it’s working, said Jim Casey, who led a few dozen Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts from Laurel, Neb.-based troops across the expo. “We’ve been coming every year since this started,’’ he said. “All these outdoor activities are Scout-related and they’re free. That’s important. It’s the only place that some of these kids will see fish up close or paddle a boat. It’s good for kids to learn about the outdoors.’’ Alicia Wielgus of Columbus, Neb., dunked her arms into a steel stock tank of cold water and came up with a big yellow common carp. Her face registered a combined look of disgust and joy. “I can’t believe they let people touch them,’’ Wielgus said. “But I did it to show my kids not to be afraid.’’ Across the tank, her children — Jade, Granite and Opal — were leaning in to grab fish, and squealing, too. Another stock tank featured a hands-off, educational display of game fish taken from the nearby Missouri River two days ago. Down at the pond, buoys separated trout anglers from kayakers. But nothing separated James Clay of Norfolk, Neb., from the pond. Clay capsized his kayak and ended up in the water when attempting an aggressive turn to catch his two grandsons, Cadin Jenkins, 10, and Zachary Jenkins, 9, of Norfolk. It was Clay’s first visit to the expo. “We like it,’’ a dripping Clay said after his dunking. “We’re here to have fun, and we are!’’ Swenson said visitors told him the expo’s revised layout across the 2,200-acre park resembles a state fair experience. Matt Stutzman of Fairfield, Iowa, showed off archery skills that won him a silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. Born without arms, Stutzman inserts an arrow into his compound bow with a bare foot, lifts and steadies the bow with his right foot and draws the string with his mouth — not his teeth. He pulls the arrow back with a release aid strapped to his right shoulder. He releases the arrow with a trigger, like those used by other archers, by applying slight pressure from his jaw. He set a Guinness World Record for the longest accurate shot — 230 yards — at the Ponca expo last year. Swenson said the expo is an opportunity for parents and grandparents to introduce activities to children and grandchildren. “If you’ve never shot a shotgun, cast a line for a trout or paddled a kayak and want to try it, this is what the expo is all about,’’ he said. “It’s a place to bring the family to reintroduce an outdoor activity or try something new.’’ The expo continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ponca State Park is about 120 miles north of Omaha. A daily $5 Nebraska state park entry fee is collected at the gate, but all expo activities are free. Hayrack rides ferry people to more than 80 activities and events around the park.