Make yourself at home in crowd of thousands

Saturday, March 19, 2005

This weekend organizers and vendors are hoping a strange mix of poker tables, greyhound dogs, free cheese-making lessons and the latest in home theater technology will help bring visitors to the Home and Garden Show at the Show Me Center.

With 120 vendors displaying their wares in 200 booths, the show is expected to draw between 8,000 to 10,000 by the time it ends on Sunday. Event organizer Sarah Geringer said this year the show offers more products and activities for more people than ever before.

"There's a little bit of everything here," said Geringer. "It's a lot more diverse than last year. You wouldn't have to be a homeowner to find something to enjoy."

This year's event features 34 new exhibits, including at least one that will be a big draw for men who may be reluctant to join their significant other at the show. An entire wing of the upstairs level of the Show Me Center is dedicated to recreation room furnishings provided by A. E. Schmidt, Co. of St. Louis.

Custom-built pool tables, foosball tables, air hockey tables, poker tables complete with poker sets, a jukebox and other furnishings dominate the upper floor.

Also new at this year's show is the Quest Motion Simulator from D-Box Technology, on display at the Audio and Video Store booth. The simulator is a special motorized recliner or loveseat that attaches to a television through a computer. Using special programming, viewers can be put into the action of more than 400 movies as the furniture rumbles and tilts to simulate the action.

"It's really pretty awesome," said Cape Girardeau County resident Kara Mabry after watching part of "Top Gun" in the simulator Friday. "When it starts to vibrate, it's like 'Hello!'"

Another new attraction at this year's show is REGAP out of St. Louis. REGAP is a not-for-profit organization that puts retired greyhound racing dogs up for adoption for a $200 donation.

"They make terrific pets," said Bob Giddings, who greeted visitors at the REGAP booth with greyhounds Joshua and Joe. "It's amazing the way they adjust to a whole new world. They are very quiet and gentle."

Numerous visitors stopped to give affection to Joshua -- and Joe between Joe's nap periods.

Some of the more popular attractions are the cooking demonstrations. The biggest one is the Station West display at the center of the bottom level, with Cheryl Reinagel and Glenda Nations of The Blue Willow Pantry in Kelso providing demonstrations along with special guests.

This is the first year guests have been added. Today at 2 p.m., the cooking theater will have wine experts from several area wineries demonstrating the proper wines to serve with certain dishes and how to cook with wine.

"We really like to have guests come to our kitchen," Reinagel said. "It's sort of like the Food Network."

A demonstration today will also show people how to make their own cheese at home in 30 minutes.

Over the weekend, Reinagel said, The Blue Willow Pantry will make food with over $1,200 in groceries, all of it given away as samples.

"We love doing this," she said. "I enjoy making people happy with food, and maybe we can bring back memories of their mother's or grandmother's kitchen."

335-6611, extension 182

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