BOARDMAN - Darron Trowbridge's arms were full of the "goodies" his daughter, Lacie, 10, and Courtni, 7, were busy collecting at the Morrow County Children's Fair held Thursday afternoon at the Port of Morrow.

Trowbridge's other daughter, Tiffani, 15, also attended the family-oriented event.

Trowbridge was impressed with the combination of fun, games and education at the eighth annual fair coordinated by Tiah Sanderson, a contract worker with Morrow County Behavioral Health.

"They asked the kids about a chemical spill, gave away bike helmets and did finger printing," Trowbridge said. "It's pretty smart and it's a fun way to bring them here to learn."

Children earned tickets after participating in activities and visiting informational displays, including face painting, dart throwing, finger printing, emergency preparedness and fire safety.

After collecting 10 tickets, they were "cashed in" for a bag that included popcorn, hot chocolate mix, card games and an informational handout on family game night.

"It's a teaching tool explaining why it's important to spend time together with the TV off and communicate," Sanderson said.

Although trying to coordinate busy schedules can sometimes be difficult, Sanderson promotes the value of regularly scheduled family time.

"It's nice to have adults bring their children to an activity and we encourage positive behaviors," Sanderson said.

Although Sanderson said it's sometimes difficult to know how to effectively promote the event, it was apparent by the crowd of more than 400 her efforts were successful.

Along with notices in area newspapers, the elementary schools gave students a postcard-size flier with pencils attached to them to advertise the event.

Trowbridge, who had never attended the event, found out about the fair from his children.

"They just handed me a piece of paper and said they would like to go, so we're here," he said.

Blaine Ganvoa, recreation director for Boardman Park and Recreation, was on hand to promote the summer children and youth programs.

A PowerPoint presentation projected on the wall showcased activities the department offers.

Ganvoa recently recruited Anna Brown, a teacher at Windy River Elementary School, to head up the FUNtastic Kidz program. Geared for children from 5-12 years old, it offers arts, crafts, games, music and educational programs from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Monday through Thursdays from June 16 to July 26.

"We provide a bus route and its all free," Ganvoa said.

For older youths, the program focuses on outdoor activities including cycling, rollerblading, disc golf, Frisbee games, soccer, fishing, paddle boating and kayaking. The teen program is scheduled from 1-4 p.m. However, transportation isn't provided for the older youth program.

Twelve bicycles were purchased with a Cycle Oregon grant. They will be used in the recreation program and also available for rent at the park.

Morrow County Sheriff's deputies handed out free bike helmets.

The program also includes water safety for all age groups.

"Our program is really developing," Ganvoa said. "There's a need and we're attempting to fill that need."

Josue Garcia, 12, has enjoyed the recreation program in the past and is looking forward to this summer's activities.

"It's just great, he said." "I remember going on the boat in FUNtastic Kidz."

Patricia Ortiz, health care promoter for Morrow County Public Health, said it's important to provide awareness to local residents regarding the services available.

People who don't have insurance or who are under-insured can access the same health care available to people with insurance, she said.

The clinics in Boardman and Heppner provide free blood pressure checks.

Boardman Police Chef John Zeiler said more than 100 children were fingerprinted and had their photos taken.

"Parents take home the cards and fill out the information," he said.

Zeiler said the data is invaluable in assisting law enforcement agencies in the event of kidnappings and finding lost or missing children.

Cheryle Harper and Kim Van Gorder provided information on the newly formed Fire Corps. The volunteer organization helps provide meals for firefighters when they are fighting fires. Additionally, they provide office assistance and perform computer work enabling firefighters in attacking blazes rather than being bogged down with routine office work.

The corps organized three months ago and currently have 25 members. For more information or to volunteer, contact Suzanne Matthews at 481-3473 or smatthews@boardmanfd.com.

"The more helpers we have to come and volunteer, the better," Van Gorder said.

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