FORT SILL, Okla., March 18, 2021 -- More than 40 Fort Sill installation and off-post agencies joined forces and welcomed everyone who stopped by their exhibit tables during the Community Information Expo March 11 at the Patriot Club.
Presented by Fort Sill Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (FMWR), the event provided curious individuals and families alike with a vast array of printed flyers and brochures, and other information about installation and community resources, activities, and special events.
Annabell Mosley, 12, and Jazmine Leggett, 11, Western Oklahoma Girl Scouts, had been assisting at their table by giving away tic-tac-toe kits especially crafted for young children, said Leggett.
When not stationed at their own exhibit table, and with permission to do so, the two girls from Lawton Troop 149 took advantage of the opportunity to leisurely check out the other exhibits throughout the venue and add items to their respective giveaway caches.
Mosley had already picked up an assortment of notebooks from several of the exhibitors, while Leggett had her eye trained on the Fort Sill Nye Library display of free books.
“I haven’t picked one up yet,” Leggett said as she considered her choices, but she was intent on doing so before event’s end.
When asked what they found of greatest interest at the expo, Leggett looked across the room toward the Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center exhibit and said, “Their snake is interesting, but I’m afraid of it.”
“I’ve been out to the Medicine Park Aquarium,” Mosley noted. “Not recently, but I have been out there.”
A smiling Fabiola Navarro, special events coordinator for Fort Sill FMWR, reported that she was pleased with the turnout for the event.
“Our Fort Sill FMWR divisions, installation directorates, and community partners, organizations, and agencies came together to bring about a successful event,” Navarro said.
“This Community Information Expo is the first such event we’ve held since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago,” she explained. “We need to bring back the confidence of the community, by letting everyone know that we’re still moving forward with events, around COVID.”
Last Thursday’s venue featured adherence to current COVID-19 protocols of multiple hand sanitizing stations, physical distancing with regard to the placement of exhibit tables and seating, and the wearing of face masks. Should anyone have arrived absent a mask, one was provided to them.
Perhaps given the hope of an eventual reduction in COVID-19 mitigation protocols coupled with the onset of warmer spring weather in the next month or so, “a lot of people here today focused on recreational activities and what to do outdoors,” Navarro said.
“Safely,” she emphasized.
Patrons interested in delving into safe outdoor activity options had the opportunity to visit such exhibitors as the Medicine Park Aquarium and Natural Sciences Center, FMWR Children and Youth Services, FMWR Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area (LETRA), and the City of Lawton Parks and Recreation Department.
Robin Garrett, outreach services director for FMWR Child and Youth Services (CYS), devoted much of her time during the two-hour long event promoting the CYS and LETRA Spring Festival which is scheduled April 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“There was lots of interest when we talked it up,” Garrett said.
Free and open to everyone, families are encouraged to pack a picnic lunch and celebrate the Month of the Military Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month at LETRA. Miniature golf, paddle boats, corn hole games, and archery are among the events on tap for the Spring Festival.
In addition to specific upcoming events and attractions, Army Wellness Center and Southwestern Medical Center (SWMC) representatives shared general Southwest Oklahoma outdoor health and safety tips, said Navarro.
Several of the exhibitors — to include SWMC, the Armed Services YMCA, and the FMWR Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program — visited with patrons about the variety of volunteer opportunities available to them year round.
Kayla Walker and Rachal Smith represented the United States Field Artillery Association and “enjoyed a pretty good turnout,” said Walker.
“We wanted to set up at the expo to show support of Fort Sill,” Smith said.
Their display featured an array of FA Journals fanned out on a scarlet tablecloth and a bowl of crossed-cannon keychains catching the eye of passersby looking for a branch-specific giveaway.
A number of door prizes were given away, to include three grand prizes — as furnished by FMWR, AT&T, Corvias, Hilliary Communications, and First Command — all of which were drawn at intermittent intervals during the expo. The grand prizes were a coffee maker with coffee, a barbecue grill with a bag of charcoal briquettes, and a fishing pole with a backpack.
At event’s end, while exhibitors packed up their displays, Girl Scouts Mosley and Leggett cheerfully bestowed upon each exhibitor an individual s’mores kit to toast-and-eat in celebration of their next outdoor adventure.