Wildlife Expo at Johnson Center Oct. 24

Published 3:00 am Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Johnson Center for the Arts is stepping outside the box with its upcoming Wildlife Expo from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24.

“This exhibition is a first of its kind for the Johnson Center,” said Vicki Pritchett, Johnson Center executive director. “In the Johnson Center’s ‘New Decade of Vision’ we want to be an art center for all Pike County. Wildlife and hunting are the oldest cultural events in Pike County and hunting is a large industry in the Southeast. At the Johnson Center we want to celebrate the art and beauty of wildlife and what better way to do it than to have students draw pictures of wildlife and to look at taxidermy of animals of the local area.”

Students throughout the county were invited to enter their wildlife-themed artwork in the student art competition and their entries will be exhibited at the Johnson Center during the Wildlife Expo.

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“The student artwork will be displayed along with the taxidermy exhibit in all three upper level galleries,” Pritchett said. “In today’s world, many children don’t have opportunities to go into the woods or experience the outdoors. Some children have never seen a wild turkey and some will be amazed at the size of a bobcat. The Wildlife Expo will give students the opportunity to experience the outdoors in a different way.”

But the Wildlife Expo is not just for students. It’s anyone who enjoys wildlife in particular and the outdoors in general.

“We are very excited to have Preston Pittman, Five time Turkey Calling World Champion and comedian as the featured guest for the Wildlife Expo,” Pritchett said. “He has been featured on the David Letterman Show and in outdoor hunting magazines including ‘Outdoor Life,’ ‘Field and Stream,’ ‘Southern Outdoors’ and “Sports Afield,’ among others.”’

Pittman is a member of the National Outdoor Hall of Fame. He will demonstrate his calling skill at the Wildlife Expo and talk about his journey as a world champion turkey caller. He has also crafted a special turkey call for the Johnson Center and it will be given as the prize in a raffle the day of the Expo.

“Preston Pittman travels all around the country with his ‘show’ and I say show because he is quite a showman,” Pritchett said.

Pittman’s “show” is one of the featured events of the Wildlife Expo.

“We are also having a chili and grill cook-off at the Wildlife Expo and ribbons will be awarded to the winners,” Pritchett said. “Those who enter their chili should be at the Johnson Center around 10 a.m. The grillers can start as early as needed.”

The chili and grilled meat will be available during the noon hour at a cost of $5 for meat, bread and drink or bowl of chili, crackers and drink.

The Wildlife Expo will kick off at 9 a.m. with an archery demonstration by Troy Elementary and Middle School archery teams. Lenny Trawick will provide music at 9:45 a.m. followed by an Art of Taxidermy demonstration by Todd Swindall at 10 a.m.

At 10:45 Game Warden Kirk Smith will speak about hunting laws and regulations.

At 11:15 World Champion Turkey Caller and comedian Preston Pittman will present his much-anticipated show.

The winners of the student art competition will be announced by Troy Bank & Trust and the chili and grill winners will also be announced at noon with lunch and music by Lenny Trawick to follow.

A Youth Gun Safety demonstration by Jacob Fannin of Shady Grove Tactical will be at 1 p.m. and a gun restoration demonstration program by Ray Holmes at 1:30 p.m.

Throughout the day, outdoor and wildlife booths will be set up in the parking lot for the enjoyment of Expos visitors.

Admission to the Wildlife Expo is $5 and everyone is invited to come and enjoy a day in the outdoors in an indoor environment.