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School transformed for Elmwood All Outdoors Show

March 04, 2013 at 07:40 AM

Peoria Journal Star

ELMWOOD — The Elmwood All Outdoors Show invaded the school Saturday and Sunday, bringing about 100 vendors to the building selling items ranging from pens made from deer antlers to boat safety lessons.

In addition to the vendors selling goods, there were some more fun diversions, such as the opportunity to feed a caged deer or do some late-winter fishing in a trout pond.

It was the fourth incarnation of the event, which began a few years ago to help raise money for Elmwood athletics programs and scholarships. Committee member Jeff Lampe said in previous years the show had raised about $75,000 total and this year's was likely to put the total amount raised over $100,000.

"It's tough times. There's not a lot of money out there for schools right now, so this has been a big help," he said.

But it's not just the athletic programs that get something out of the show - the experience leaves the vendors happy, too.

Kendall Carrigan, a vendor with Illinois Bowfishers, spent the day working an archery booth, setting up targets and teaching young children how to shoot a bow.

Carrigan said for many that came through his booth, it was their first time shooting, and though Illinois Bowfishers wasn't selling items, the experience itself was rewarding enough.

"Their eyes light up, big smile, sometimes they squeal and jump," he said. "I've seen fist pumps and everything else, so it's just great to see them. Always a smile."

Among the customers traversing the school was Elmwood resident Justin Durst and his 7-year-old son, Layne.

Durst said both his children play sports, and the show was a great way to sort of give back to the programs, in addition to giving the duo something to do on a Sunday morning.

"We don't get out as much as we used to. This lets us get a little taste of it," he said. "Here we can see what the outdoor stuff's about and see if (Layne's) interested in it."

Volunteers clad in hunter's orange shirts snaked in and out of the crowded hallways, and as Lampe was quick to point out, most of those volunteers were the students themselves.

"The most gratifying thing is seeing the kids work so hard, and the number one comment I hear from the vendors is (that we) have great kids in Elmwood," he said. "There's a lot of people who bash kids in this day and age, and I think this is a show that proves there's great kids everywhere - and a lot of them in Elmwood are wearing orange shirts."

Jesse O'Brien can be reached at 686-3257 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow him on Twitter @jesseobrien.

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