Attendance at the annual Moniteau County Back to School Fair sponsored by Co-Mo Electric nearly doubled last year's numbers Saturday at California High School, according to John Agliata, Co-Mo Communications Manager and Alliance Board President.
"It grew from 281 last year to about 440 pre-registered this year," Agliata said. "That doesn't include the walk-ins. We stepped up the advertising, and I think with the current economy and getting the word out that this event is for everyone in Moniteau County, not just low income, helped."
A total of 16 educational and informational vendors participated. Free backpacks and school supplies were distributed, and free hearing and vision screenings were offered, as well as immunization and dental check-ups. Mo Chip (Missouri Child Identification Program), a free child ID event for ages up to 21, also participated, sponsored by Masonic Lodge #183, the Masonic Children's Foundation and the Moniteau County Alliance for Kids.
Santa was even present.
"He came to get mid-year reports from the kids," Alicia Whitson, who was in charge of vendors and entertainment at the fair, said.
Face-painting, crafts and snacks, among other fun activities, were also offered at the event.
"The support from the community has been tremendous," Agliata said. "It's amazing to see the different organizations from all of the communities in Moniteau County bring everyone together for such a good cause. It's so rewarding to see the smiles on the kids' faces, even those who got shots!"