Christmas in October.

That’s how at least one patron described the 2011 Tribune-Star Senior Expo at Hulman Center.

The annual event, which attracted people from across the Wabash Valley, featured dozens of vendors, all with products or services geared to serve seniors.

Many vendors saw familiar faces among the hundreds in attendance Wednesday.

“We’ve actually seen a lot of our patients today,” said Rebecca Walker, an office manager for Professional Audiology Clinics, which was giving free hearing tests at the Expo. “We can tell if they have a hearing loss,” Walker said of the testing.

As always, vendors at the Expo provided free gifts. Also, prizes were awarded during non-stop bingo games.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Genevieve Lucas of Marshall, who is a regular at the annual Expo. “I’ve found it most interesting.”

Other folks benefiting from the Expo were Ed and Linda Howaniec of Terre Haute. At the booth sponsored by Anderson’s Medical Products, the retired couple found a lift chair perfect for their needs, they said.

“That was what we were looking for,” said Ed Howaniec, who retired in 2006 after working more than 50 years at WTHI-TV.

This was the first year the Expo has taken place on a weekday and a large crowd still kept the Expo busy. Parking was available on nearby streets and also in the city-owned parking garage on North Ninth Street.

Among the new vendors this year was Conservatory of Music, which was informing seniors of the benefits of playing the organ for people with arthritis. The Conservatory is offering classes that can help anyone learn simple keyboard playing skills, all designed for seniors.

“It’s brilliant,” said Dixie Blackwell, part of the keyboard education program at the Conservatory, which is located at 470 W. Honey Creek Drive. Keyboard experience is not required to participate, Blackwell said. The keyboard classes build camaraderie and participants have a great time, she said.

The Terre Haute Eye Center was another health care provider participating in the Expo. Many seniors were visiting its information booth and taking away valuable information.

“It’s going great,” said Tabitha Lasseter, surgery coordinator for the Eye Center.

Also at the Expo, Union Hospital was providing free blood pressure screening.

“It’s been really busy,” said Jennifer Henderson, who was helping administer the screenings.

The Maple Center, a nonprofit agency, also was active at the Expo. The organization, which specializes in taking a “mind, body and spirit” approach to health, provided information about the Coronary Health Improvement Project, which encourages people to adopt a diet that has been shown to reduce the need for medications and even reverse potential heart problems.

“We’re trying to get people healthy,” said Tobi Tucker, a nurse, CHIP program graduate and volunteer for the Maple Center at the Expo. “Education is a good thing.”

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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