Bigger and better – that’s how the Women That Hunt is describing its second youth expo.

Coming off a successful first event, the group is hoping to improve upon its numbers from 2016 which saw more than 1,100 youth and 570 adults attend.

“I won’t say it was a trial run. But I don’t think anyone knew what to expect last year,” said President Kim McBurnie. “No one realized the magnitude of what it would turn into. Now that we have an idea, we’re confident in saying we’re going to have more exhibitors and many of the returning exhibitors are going to have larger, more interactive booths. We’re just looking at expanding on what we did and offering a wider variety for youth.”

The youth expo is derived from the Women That Hunt’s overall mission. It aims to expose women and children to the outdoors. McBurnie says the best way for them to do that is by bringing all those opportunities to one place – the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex.

“The expo is a place where kids can come and try as many of the activities we can fit into the space we have,” she said. “We want as many people as we can get. The expo isn’t just about activities involving hunting. The idea is to expose them, inspire them and educate them mentally, physically and emotionally. We want to get kids out of the house, away from screens and trying new things.”

In an effort to harness some warmer weather the expo has been pushed back a week to April 22. It will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and feature a variety of hands-on exhibits, demonstrations and more.

Director Teresa Elliott says a number of new things have been lined up which will blend in well with returning exhibitors.

“We have Atlantic Cirque performing which is something a little different for us,” she said. “It combines the arts with physical activity. The plan is for them to teach the kids a few different things. We’re excited about this because it opens up the expo to youth who are more into the arts and not so much hockey or soccer. We want this to be all-inclusive. We realize it’s not all about athletics. We have some really creative kids in this county.”

Favourites like laser tag and the rock climbing wall are back and Nissan Canada has sponsored a 100-foot long obstacle course. Nova Strong, formerly known as MudCraft, is returning with some obstacles for youth and Cobequid Spartans Gymnastics will be bringing interactive equipment.

Bicycle and motocross demonstrations will take place featuring well-known names such as Heidi Cooke, Tyler Medaglia and Drew Bezanson. Marmac Atheltics will also have representatives showcasing their talents as well.

“We know there are kids out there who don’t have the chance to experience or try different things,” said McBurnie. “But we believe the educational aspect of this event is just as important. Things like learning to tap a tree for maple syrup or learning about organic food, hunting and preserving food; some kids just don’t know about these things.”

A focus has also been put on using the outdoor space surrounding the sportsplex more efficiently this year.

“We’re changing the parking system this year,” said Elliott. “Truro Nissan will be providing shuttle service to and from the parking area. This year, we plan on using the main parking area at the sportsplex for our outdoor vendors. Last year, some exhibitors were limited on what they could do because of space restraints and in other situations, things were happening but because they weren’t in a main area, many people didn’t know about them. This year, we’re hoping to have some of the things people may have missed last year in more visible areas.”

Admission for youth will once again be free this year while adults will pay $5. The money generated is used in a variety of ways by the Women That Hunt.

The plan is to put even more of an emphasis on the financial aspect this year, especially when it comes to educational opportunities.

“We made a donation to the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex and we will be doing the same this year,” said Elliott. “We put 24 kids through hunter safety training and non-restricted firearms training and we also awarded three $1,000 bursaries to South Colchester Academy graduates.”

The deadline for vendors is March 31. There is no cost to vendors but the Women That Hunt does ask that they provide a door prize that helps meet the expo’s overall mission.

To learn more, visit www.theyouthexpo.com.