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Missouri River Outdoor Expo returns to Ponca State Park this weekend

Missouri River Outdoor Expo returns to Ponca State Park this weekend

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Nebraskans Chase Kastning, 10, of Ponca and Sarah Beach, 11, of Waterbury gently collide while trying out kayaks during the 2014 Missouri River Outdoor Expo at Ponca State Park.

Nebraska’s big outdoor show returns this weekend at the annual Missouri River Outdoor Expo at Ponca State Park.

The free event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, offers visitors of all ages and experience levels the chance to try more than 85 hands-on outdoor activities and skills, including kayaking, fishing, archery, outdoor cooking, shooting sports and more.

Outdoor educators will give advice on everything from selecting a tent to a fishing pole. Naturalist programs will give visitors a chance to see fish, reptiles, birds and other Nebraska wildlife up close.

The intent of the expo is to preserve Nebraska’s outdoor heritage and give the public a chance to try out activities they can take advantage of in Nebraska with no equipment or expertise required, said Jim Swenson, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s parks administrator.

Experts from the commission and other organizations will help novices get their bearings and will offer tips and tricks to more experienced outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen, too, Swenson said.

The event is designed to be a fun, skill-building, educational and entertaining weekend for the family, he said. Attendance has averaged 52,000 in recent years.

The expo offers entertainment, too. Brothers Aaron and Steve Gould, who are widely known for their live exhibition shooting, will bring their performance to this year’s event. Matt Stutzman, who was born without arms, is a skilled archer who uses his legs and feet and has been a popular performer at past expos.

Another featured archer, Randy Oitker, earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records by shooting six arrows at once to hit six balloon targets.

Other entertainment includes a canine aquatics competition, a canine acrobatics show, raptor show, various live wildlife exhibits, historical re-enactments, a President Theodore Roosevelt impersonator and a lumberjack show.

More information on this year’s expo is available at MissouriRiverExpo.com. A park entry permit is required for each vehicle entering the park, which is located just north of Ponca in northeast Nebraska’s Dixon County.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1127, david.hendee@owh.com

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