MILL RIVER -- Doris Peters wishes Jean Dewar were still around to see what the West Prince Seniors Expo has become.
“I just told her, ‘Why don’t we do something for the seniors?’ I said,” Peters recalls of a conversation she had with Jean Dewar outside the O’Leary post office 25 years ago.
“The first thing I knew she got something going.”
As organizers started planning for the 25th expo, to be held at the Rodd Mill River Resort on June 3, they decided to give Peters a free pass to the milestone event because, of the 250 people who attend annually, she is the only one who has been to them all.
“I enjoy it all,” the O’Leary resident commented. “I enjoy the guest speakers and meeting all the friends. I enjoy every bit of it.”
“That’s like our picnics: They all come home for that picnic,” Peters said in comparing the expo’s draw to that of the annual St. Anthony’s Parish Picnic. Seniors clubs across the Island send members to the event.
“(Dewar) expected 80 or 90 the first year and they attracted 198,” said 2014 event co-chair Wanda Adams in referring to minutes from the inaugural Expo in 1990. Numbers subsequently peaked in excess of 300 before being capped at 250. They’ve consistently sold out.
Of the 11-member planning committee, only Cletus Dunn has been involved from the expo’s inception.
The event started out with an active living focus. “Now we like to sit, eat and laugh,” Adams reflected, adding that guest speakers, music and lots of humour remains big components of the traditional first-Tuesday-of-June social.
This year Everett Boulter and Friends will entertain during registration from 12 to 1. Other musical guests include Ceilidh Brae, Dwayne Doiron, Clint Doucette and a Seniors Expo staple, a sing-along with Wes MacAleer.
Sr. Norma Gallant, president of the Seniors Federation of P.E.I. will officially open the expo. Nancy MacFadyen and Barb Perry will both be performing skits.
Every year the expo adopts an international theme and with this being the International Year of the Family Farm, guest speaker Allison Ellis will address that theme.
Participants will be treated to a roast pork supper.
Funeral homes, pharmacies and credit unions of West Prince take turns sponsoring the annual Expo and this year it’s the funeral homes turn.
“I don’t know what would happen if we didn’t have the sponsors,” said John Hagen, the program’s emcee.
Planning the expo is a lot of work, committee members admit, but they say it is well worth it for the joy the event brings.
“For senior citizens, it’s really nice to get together,” assessed Phyllis Porter. “It’s nice to be part of it.”
Priscilla Domingue marvels that people look forward to the annual expo with excitement. “It’s the day,” she remarked.
Peters said she has made many friends through the annual get-together, some of whom she only sees at seniors expo.
And every year there are new seniors joining the ranks.
Tickets to expo are limited to 250 and are available from committee members John and Jean Hagen, Wanda Adams, Shirley Murphy, Priscilla Domingue, Jean Balsom, Phyllis Porter, Katherine Boulter, Theresa Doucette, Cletus Dunn and Joanne Wallace.