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15th annual Life Connections is Friday

The Kingery family musicians perform at last year’s Life Connections.

WILLMAR — Up to 2,000 people are expected to attend the 15th annual Life Connections Friday at the Willmar Civic Center.

The all-day event, held by the West Central Tribune and participating sponsors, targets adults 50 and up with activities ranging from educational seminars to polka-dancing and bingo.

The doors at the Civic Center open at 8 a.m. Exhibits are open until 2 p.m. and final activities wind up at 4 p.m.

Life Connections is one of the region’s few events aimed squarely at older adults, said Kevin Smith, advertising director of the West Central Tribune.

This is “an important demographic” to reach, he said. “It just gets bigger every day. As people are starting to retire, this gives them an opportunity to see what there is to do. It’s a nice mixture of education and entertainment. There are tons of great prizes too.”

A variety of vendors and activities helps ensure that attendees will find plenty to do and see, whether they’re in their 50s or their 80s, he said.

Fifty-three vendors are registered for the exhibit hall, where they will be providing information, activities and giveaways for most of the day. “A lot of the vendors are here year after year,” Smith said.

Attractions in the food court include Dad’s Belgian Waffles, serving from 8 to 9:15 a.m., and a piefest from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m.

Educational seminars are scheduled throughout the morning. The Southwest Initiative Foundation will give a presentation on legacy giving at 9:15 a.m., followed by a wellness seminar at 11 a.m. by Dr. Thomas Sult of Third Opinion, and a presentation on living wills at 11:45 a.m. by Rice Memorial Hospital.

Touching Hearts at Home also will lead a session at 1 p.m. with exercises designed to build bone health.

“The seminars are things that people are very interested in,” Smith said. “You get a very good value for that.”

Many of the activities, such as pie, bingo and dancing are popular year after year, he said. The winner of the Outstanding Senior award winner will be named and, new this year, a Nonprofit Organization of the year will also be named. Both will be announced at 10:25 a.m. on the main stage and will be chosen from nominations by the public.

Smith said attendees are usually lined up outside the Civic Center waiting for the doors to open at 8 a.m. Many spend the entire day at Life Connections, he said. “They get to see people they haven’t seen for a while. There’s lots to do. If you stay for the day, you will be busy all day.”

Tickets are $4 in advance and $5 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Cash Wise, Cub Foods, the Willmar Community Center and the West Central Tribune.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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