Outdoor enthusiasts will be setting their sights on St. Clair next weekend as the third Truth and the Outdoors Expo is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, March 8-10, at the St. Clair High School campus along Highway 30.

The expo, which will feature a variety of outdoors-related booths, several shows and activities, entertainment for children and more, has a Christian emphasis but is open to everyone.

“We like to emphasize this is a family-friendly event,” organizer Mark Bay told The Missourian. “It’s open to everyone. It’s tailored to outdoor enthusiasts, but there will be something for everyone.

“And, the opportunity will be there to present the Gospel and for people to learn about Jesus Christ.”

The event takes place every other year. In 2009, the host site was the Franklin County Baptist Association building and grounds on Highway 47 between St. Clair and Union. Two years ago, the high school campus area was used.

During the first expo, an estimated crowd of 5,000 attended despite drenching rains. In 2011, attendance soared to more than 10,000 despite a winter storm that dropped a few inches of heavy, wet snow on the area.

This year’s attendance goal is 15,000 to 18,000, or more than three times the population of St. Clair.

“It’s a big event,” Bay said. “We’ve designed it to accommodate that many people over the three days.

Expo hours are from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The high school, junior high and Edgar Murray buildings will be utilized. In all, more than 150 vendors will be present, including some big names like Cabella’s and Coleman.

Local vendors will display their wares, too.

What There Is to Do

Vendors will be set up inside and outside the campus and its buildings. A children’s area will be located in and around the junior high cafeteria. Various seminars are scheduled inside the SCHS auditorium. A country store and eating area will be set up in the high school cafeteria. Demonstrations will take place in the SCJHS gym.

Admission is free, but attendees are asked to make a donation of at least one canned food item, which will be donated to area food pantries.

“Our vendor spaces sold out,” Bay said. “They’re going to be everywhere — inside, outside, you name it.”

Bay emphasized that the organization of the event has been changed somewhat this year in that no activities will take place behind buildings. The SCHS athletic field or track area will not be used.

However, the popular zipline is returning. Bay said partakers will “fly over some of the vendors” in front of the facilities.

Other highlights, Bay said, will be a 3-D archery shoot, an indoor archery skeet shoot, target shooting, Travis Loewen and his 2,200-pound bull and a collection of the 16 largest whitetail deer ever on display. Seminar speakers include Pond Pro’s Tim Shannon, antler dog trainer Roger Sigler, whitetail deer expert Brian Utecht of Cross Trail Outfitters, catfish expert Chris Morrow and Mark and Dan Whitt, who lost their father in a hunting accident.

Attendance prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the seminars. Individuals must be present to win. Prizes include fishing gear, hunting equipment, guns, bows, a guided fishing trip and a custom maple table valued at $2,300.

“This is going to be an outstanding event again,” Bay said. “It’s going to be a blast.”

Bay also said coupon books will be sold during the event. The books feature event vendor coupons as well as coupons from local businesses that can be used during and after the expo. The books are $5.

A coloring contest for children also is planned with winners announced Sunday afternoon in the auditorium.

Also as part of the expo from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at SCHS, the Missouri Masonic Children’s Foundation and St. Clair Easter Lodge No. 575 will be sponsoring a free Child Identification and Protection session.

CHIPs is a comprehensive child identification and protection program designed to provide families a proactive means of preparation should a child go missing.

Shuttle service will be available to and from the high school campus. People can park in the industrial park area near Pizza Shack, the parking lot across East Springfield Road across from First Baptist Church and the old Country Mart grocery building on Commercial Avenue and be transported to and from the expo.

“There’s so much going on, I can’t even talk about all of it,” Bay said. “But, I encourage everyone to come out and have a good time.”

The event is sponsored by the Franklin County Baptist Association.     

“We wanted this event to be unique from the many others that you may attend,” Franklin County Baptist Association Director Jim Plymale said. “It has been the vision of our association leaders and the Truth and the Outdoors team to provide an affordable and richly rewarding experience for the entire family where each visitor could have the opportunity to be exposed to the ‘great truth’ behind the outdoors.”

For more information, visit www.truthandtheoutdoors.com