Panola County Senior Expo 2022 is one for the history books and the record books, according to organizers.
The event drew a crowd estimated at about 350 people with 50 vendors on hand and dozens of bingo and other prizes given away at the day-long event held Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Carthage Civic Center, according to Janet Ritter, with Accentcare and one of the event’s coordinators.
“It was record attendance,” Ritter said. “And everyone attending was super excited with lots of positive comments heard from vendors and people who came out.”
Among the vendors was Brady Brown, sales representative for Humana.
“There was an amazing amount of people,” Brown said. “I had the chance to meet a lot of people, fellowship and just answer questions.”
His brightly colored Humana booth was a winner for one of the best decorated booths at the event in both the people’s choice category and for the event as a whole. He was assisted by daughter Maddie Brown both wearing island-theme shirts and sunglasses as they visited and passed out information and goodies.
Perhaps the best part for Brown was the fact he was able to set up one-on-one appointments with several Senior Expo guests who requested them. That easily made the investment of time and energy in attending worthwhile. He plans to be back next year.
Elaine Harrell was among those attending who was a prize winner after playing a round of corn hole at a booth hosted by Panola College nursing students.
“I just wanted to come out and see what it’s all about,” Harrell said after pitching the bean bag into the target hole five consecutive times and walking away the winner of an umbrella.
JoAnn Nutt was caught up with as she prepared to take a seat at a bingo table after making the rounds of vendor booths. She and friend Billie Ogden were both prior attendees.
“It’s always fun,” Nutt said. “We’re just glad to be able to get out and see people.”
She was referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the canceling of last year’s planned Senior Expo, according to Ritter. She credited the positive attitude of attendees, who may have been sheltered during the pandemic, and the idea that the free lunch was added to the incentives to attend this year for boosting attendance.
Volunteers from Young Energy Services were on hand to cook about 400 hamburgers served to attendees and vendors. Ritter said she had lots of positive feedback from guests about the addition of the free lunch.
“We’re just so thankful for all our sponsors and vendors,” Ritter said. “We had so many positive compliments on everything and hope we’re able to provide free lunch again next year with our sponsor’s help.”
From morning until mid-afternoon the bingo tables were filled with attendees hopeful they had a winning bingo card. Prizes ranged from gift cards, home decor and gift baskets to a free flat screen smart television awarded at the end of the day for a blackout round of bingo.
The event was held at Carthage Civic Center where staffers were hustling to set up extra tables and chairs as organizers realized the attendance was going to be higher than for any of the previous eight Senior Expo events.