Waterloo, IA For the third year, the Child and Baby Expo is bringing businesses and entertainment together for eastern Iowa families. The third annual Child and Baby Expo of Iowa will be held on Saturday, March 31st at the Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, downtown Waterloo, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature all-day entertainment, activities and dozens of area business that cater to expecting parents and children up to age 12.
"Entertainment has been a major focus this year," said Dawn Breakenridge, a mom from Traer and one of the show's founders. "We will be featuring amazing Iowa entertainers including Denise Forney, a children's musician from Des Moines and Willow River Arts from Northwest Iowa doing interactive, theatrical storytelling."
The main stage, sponsored by Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, also features a family fashion show with clothes from the Children's Place and KWWL's Tara Thomas to emcee and share her experiences as a mom and news anchor.
In addition to the expanded entertainment, the Child and Baby Expo has a wonderful array of exhibitors featuring activities, shopping and services for all ages. McKenna McNelly Photography will be holding a live Cutest Kid Contest where children will get their photo taken on-site and judging will be done toward the end of the day with winners announced on stage at 2:30 p.m. Bluedorn Science Imaginerium is back with Digger the Dog; Cedar Valley Gymnastic Academy will be sharing their tumbling enthusiasm with mats and gymnasts; and American Income Life will provide child safety kits.
"The exhibitors are excited to share their services and products and are going out of their way to provide something extra for attendees," said Brooke Burnham, Grundy Center mom and Expo cofounder. "Door prizes will be given by the Expo, but also by the exhibitors throughout the day. There is plenty of opportunity to experience something fun and new."
This event began two years ago when Breakenridge and Burnham decided that they wanted to create an event for families to learn about new products, services and activities that could enrich their lives. After attending a similar event in Wisconsin, Breakenridge proposed the idea of starting one in the Cedar Valley. The two local moms got busy and are now in their third year.
"Brooke and I were constantly asking, and being asked, for referrals to family services: dentists, doctors, sports and arts, for our kids. This really seemed like a great way for parents to come to one place to learn what is available in our area, while having a fun day out for their kids," says Breakenridge. "With such busy schedules, families are always needing fun, easy ways to get information on what is new or where to go."
In 2011, the event increased attendance by over 50% from the first year in 2010. This year they hope to continue that trend of growth and include even more families.
"We are both working parents," says Burnham, "so we understand the struggle of families trying to balance work and home lives. Hopefully this event gives them a chance to find helpful services and ideas, while also getting a day to share."
Tickets to the Expo are available at the door, children 12 and under are free. The first 100 families through the doors will receive a free reusable Expo bag with gifts, coupons and special offers from sponsors and exhibitors. Discount coupons will be available to fans of the Child and Baby Expo on Facebook the week of the event. Additional information can be found at ChildandBabyExpo.com, Facebook.com/ChildandBabyExpo or by calling 319-404-8619.