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Outdoor Expo back after last year's COVID cancellation

by Caitlan Butler | September 10, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.
The 2021 SouthArk Foundation Outdoor Expo map (Contributed)

The SouthArk Foundation's annual Outdoor Expo is scheduled to be held this Saturday in and around the El Dorado Conference Center on the South Arkansas Community College's West Campus.

The event, which is being held for the 22nd time in 24 years, serves as a fundraiser for the SouthArk Foundation, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to SouthArk students and contributes to capital improvements at the college.

Last year's iteration of the event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the Outdoor Expo is jam-packed with activities scheduled throughout the day, starting at 7:30 a.m. with the Delek US Hero 5K Run-Walk and wrapping up around 3:30 p.m. as winners of other contests held at the event are announced.

Today is the last day to register for the event's Student Art Contest, which is open to children in Kindergarten through 12th grade in Union County. The theme for this year's contest is "Who is my hero?" All works entered will be exhibited in the Conference Center south foyer during the Expo and cash prizes between $25 and $75 will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners in different grade-level categories while a $100 cash prize will go to the "Best of Show" winner.

The deadline to register for the Withrow Family Rib Cook-off has passed, but it's not too late to reserve a rack of ribs cooked for the contest. Until noon tomorrow, those who wish to can order rib tickets online at Cooking will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and winners will receive cash prizes, along with bragging rights.

The Expo will also host a non-competitive, free-to-enter car show.

Registration is also still open for the Delek US Hero 5K and car show.

Other activities that will be hosted at the Outdoor Expo include a BB gun shooting range, archery, lawn games, a balloon toss and KidsWorld.

The Expo will also highlight the outdoors and Arkansas's natural resources. Exhibits will include chainsaw carving, a magic show, Smokey the Bear and a live baby alligator. Vendors will be selling duck calls, sportswear, riding lawn mowers, fishing equipment and other products.

"Our board of directors is dedicated to providing a fun and full day of hands-on activities for outdoor enthusiasts and their families," SouthArk Foundation Board President Greg Withrow said.

Food trucks will also be on hand, offering everything from barbecue, fried fish, chicken wings, hamburgers and hot dogs to vegan options, shaved ice and kettle corn, among other things.

The entry fee for the Outdoor Expo is one canned or packaged food item, which will be donated to a local food bank by event organizers.

"The Outdoor Expo is an event that benefits our college students and college programs," SouthArk Foundation Executive Director Cynthia Reyna said. "Our foundation board of directors decided years ago to waive an entry fee and to provide all activities at no cost. We know that this allows many more families and their children to enjoy a healthy and fun family-oriented day."

Several musical acts will also perform throughout the day, including Jason D. Williams, the Aces Wild Band and the Randall Lawson Band.

"South Arkansas Community College and the SouthArk Foundation are so pleased to be able to bring back the SouthArk Outdoor Expo," SouthArk President Dr. Bentley Wallace said. "This event includes fun for the whole family, and helps support student success at SouthArk. Come join us for all the fun."

This year's Outdoor Expo coincides with a number of other community events, including the El Dorado Service League's Pancakes in Pajamas with Princesses and Pirates breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado; a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony scheduled at the Conference Center at 9:30 a.m.; a COVID-19 vaccine clinic scheduled at the Conference Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb scheduled for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Union County Courthouse; and a performance by illusionist Reza at the Murphy Arts District at 7 p.m.

For more information about the Outdoor Expo, visit

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