The Missouri River Outdoor Expo, the largest outdoor expo in the Midwest, marks its eighth year at Ponca State Park on Sept. 15-16.

This free event aims to introduce or rekindle a family’s interest in natural resources and outdoor recreation with more than 80 hands-on wildlife and outdoor sport demonstrations and exhibits.

Attractions include Benelli’s Ultimate Shooter Tim Bradley, Trick Archer Frank Addington Jr., Dock Dogs Canine Aquatics Competition, Timberworks Lumberjacks, K-9 Friz-B-Crew, John Deere Gator Course. On Sept. 16, the Taste of the Wild Cook-Off will feature regional chefs preparing wild game cuisine for visitors to sample and cast a vote for their favorite chef.

Matt Stutzman, the “Armless Archer” and 2012 Paralympic athlete, returns to the Expo. At last year’s Expo, the Iowan broke the world record for longest accurate archery shot – 230 yards – using his feet.

The 2011 Expo drew more than 42,000 visitors despite the closing of the park’s Riverfront area due to flooding. The Riverfront returns this year with an 1800s historical encampment, Missouri River Boat tours and live bluegrass music by the Toasted Ponies.

Other activity locations include the Resource and Education Center and the Eric Wiebe Shooting Complex, which will become the “Shooter’s Village” during the Expo. The complex features all-weather ranges for pellet gun, archery, muzzleloader, .22 rifle, shotgun and slingshot. New this year will be the tomahawk and atl-atl range.

Participants also can experience kayaking, rock climbing, camping, fishing and bow-fishing, Missouri River boat rides, Dutch oven cooking, wild game processing and camping skills.

The Expo goes from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day. All activities at the event are free to the public; however, a valid park entry permit ($5 for day pass or $25 for annual pass) is required.

For more information, visit missouririverexpo.com.

Image courtesy Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

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