In the Wild with Greg Wagner


A DAY AT THE MISSOURI RIVER OUTDOOR EXPO by Greg Wagner

Wait, wait … Nope, it’s not Greg Wagner blogging … It’s Ponca State Park Superintendent Jeff Fields writing about spending a day at the park’s popular Missouri River Outdoor Expo this weekend of Sept. 18th and 19th … Let’s see what he has to say and why we should attend it …    

    Sometime around the beginning of September an internal clock chimes within the hearts and minds of many happy families, staff, volunteers, etc.  – the Missouri River Outdoor Expo at Ponca State Park next to the friendly town of Ponca, NE is almost here again!  I’m not sure what exactly triggers this.   Maybe it’s the slight hint of crimson in the sumac, the cool crisp evenings, the scenic Missouri River at sunrise or sunset,

or the giant heap of papers, sticky notes, clipboards, coffee cups, and half-eaten food on my desk. Maybe it’s the large piles of signs, tents, food, shotgun shells, clay pigeons, bows, arrows, Dutch ovens… that form a tunnel down our office hallway.  Nonetheless, it’s EXPO time!

   To those that have never attended the Missouri River Outdoor Expo, let me walk you through a day at the event.  Upon arrival (get here early by the way because there is way more than you can do in a day), you’ll be directed to a parking area in the back 40.  From this parking lot, a shuttle equipped with genuine bales of hay and a friendly Expo shuttle guide will take you to the site of your first adventure – the Resource and Education Center.

    For starters, at the Resource and Education Center you can see jumping dogs, crawling critters, birds being banded, giant elk antlers, slithering snakes, the camper of your dreams, kids catching trout, wood carvers, and a live bald eagle.  After grabbing a chili dog, nachos, and two ice cream bars, you’ll catch another shuttle to your next adventure – the Riverfront.

   Upon arriving at the Riverfront you’ll be greeted by a potpourri of fragrances including the signature aroma of the Missouri River, wood smoke, funnel cakes, trapping lure, barbecue, fried fish, and mules.  The atmosphere of the Riverfront can best be described as a blend of a county fair, a sport show, a rendezvous,

and a family vacation.  At the Riverfront, you can paddle a kayak,

climb a rock wall, eat a funnel cake, ride in a flat bottom boat, try your hand casting a fly rod, pack a mule, and get licked by puppy. After grabbing a bag of Kettle Korn, it’s time to head to our next adventure – the Shooter’s Village.

   As you sit on the shuttle headed to the Shooter’s Village, you might ask yourself “What is there to do at the Shooter’s Village?”   A better answer to this question might be “What can’t I do the Shooter’s Village”.  You can shoot a bow and arrow,

a clay pigeon with a shotgun, a metal gong with a muzzleloader, a spinning target with a .22, a paper target with a pellet gun, and tin can with a sling shot.   After grabbing a turkey leg and snow cone, unfortunately it’s time to leave. 

   On the way home the family will be talking about their favorite Expo experiences and making plans for future outdoor adventures.  Aside from your excessive food purchases, a cool camouflage Expo cap, and a box of decoys, you’ve pretty much got through the day with your wallet unopened.   The total package value of a day at the Missouri River Outdoor Expo at  Ponca State Park – PRICELESS!!! See you out here, at the expo!!! Click this link for more details about Ponca State Park’s fun Missouri River Outdoor Expo:

http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/Parks/poncaexpo/About_Missouri_expo.asp

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