“When it Reigns. It Poors.”

Just Add Kids Expo 2010

The Unsung Heros of EXPO!

by Just Add Kids Founder,

Paula Herrmann

Not wanting to bore you with the history of the birth and growth of Just Add Kids, but wanting to give you a little background and how we got to where we are today, the eve of the eve (at least that’s what my calendar reads as I type) of the 5th annual, of what is poised to be the biggest Just Add Kids EXPO! yet on Saturday, April 5th. I say I can “sense” it. We shall see!

Our first humble expo took place when Just Add Kids was only 3 months old. We were kindly offered half of the showroom at Burlington RV and Superstore, you know, that BIG camper store right off of I-94 and Highway 20 in Sturtevant. Myself, my then 14 year old daughter, 15 year old niece, my niece’s then boyfriend, an almost 20 year old son of my cousin-in-law, my husband, neighbor Bob, and 2 of my girlfriends. I was honored to have 25 exhibitors and about 300 guests. All went pretty well, until some kid pulled the fire alarm. Read more…The place cleared out as it was the first fire alarm experienced in the building (ever!) and we couldn’t turn it off. Wrapped it up an hour and a half earlier than the scheduled 4pm show close. It was great having all of the first responders show up. Added to our show count. Heros!

Expo 2010 Educators Credit Union picture JAK Expo 2010 2 Expo 2010 Colleen and PamJAK Expo 2010 winnabago

In 2011, our expo took on a little different approach with a unique partnership with the Sturtevant SportsPlex, which also played host to the event. Because of the goal to dually brand both properties, it was called the Active Kids Expo. The event took advantage of families attending their winter session soccer games and we logged in about 500 attendees. Again, I tapped into what was now dubbed my expo bffs, husband, and a few more friends. Second time around, pretty much a snap! We added a tennis shoe drive and collected donations for the kids at Mitchell Elementary School, an initiative of my friend, Carol, who was the gym teacher at the school at that time. Coincidentally, we’re doing another drive for Mitchell. This time collecting for the middle school’s AfterZone program that lost everything in the recent school fire. So thankful for the 35 exhibitors, my volunteer force, those that came specifically for the event and those that were lured in enroute to/from the indoor soccer fieldhouse by some characters from another galaxy. The force was with me!

Game On logo button active kids expo pic r2d2

active kids expo 2011 pic 3 fixed ake logo 01.06.11

The third year of the Just Add Kids EXPO! 2012 brought us together, working in partnership with Racine Unified School District and moving to our third home host of the event….the ginormous Case High School field house. We filled it though! We added a Main Stage, balloon twister, and a set of bounce houses. One for the whee ones, and another for toddlers and up. The highlight of that day, came even before the show opened, as we continued to have electricity blackouts on the west wall where about 7 vendors plugged in for power. Yah, that was the wall those two bounce houses plugged into. So not only would the hum of laptops and other small electrics cease to hum, the bounce houses quickly caved as the air was no longer blowing in. An angel, I kid you not, named Ron came to my rescue after each of the 4 or 5 black out episodes.  About 50 exhibitors participated and the event drew an amazing 2,000 attendees. We saw the return of neighbor Bob, and a little different group of expo bffs. That year, for sure, RUSD was my hero (along with Ron)! That was the year we added some paid sponsors. That extra financial support saved the day!

     Photos Just Add Kids EXPO 2012 Color Mom Beautiful coloring contest area Just Add Kids EXPO 2012 Racine Art Museum RAM on the Road Expo pic 2012 Patch sponsor

 I look back at last year, the Just Add Kids EXPO! 2013 and finally being able to repeat an event in the same locale, it was pretty much a repeat from the year before, with the addition of the Fun Hub which played host to our facepainter, balloon twister and Kohl’s Wild Theater; a few different vendors, and no episodes of deflating bounce houses. Hallelujah! We estimate about the same number of guests as the year prior, and a handful more exhibitors. Thankfully and unfortunately, my husband had been disabled from 3 bulging discs in his back and offered some time to help me out and prepare for the event as he was unable to work his job. Honestly, I couldn’t of done it without him and again, the team of expo bffs,, one of which had been there for 4 years straight. You all were my heroes. Super!

cheerleaders at EXPO 2013 pic Fun Hub Kohls Wild Kingdom at EXPO 2013 Liam and Half-Twisted Half Knot at Just Add Kids EXPO! 2013

That brings us to 2014. What’s in store? What you got in 2013 and SO MUCH MORE! Honestly, I am so vey excited about this year’s Just Add Kids EXPO! And you should be, too! To find out what’s going on, please check out our EXPO! page on our website and read the blog below. I’ll be coming back next week, post EXPO! and will report on 2014 heroes and so much more as I do a recap in this same space, as this piece of “journalism” (wink) will be needing an update on Thursday. Here, oh, goes!

C U @ EXPO! Where “FUN” is “KING”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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