By Sheri Duff
It could be said that Vermont Maturity Magazine publishers Marianne and Paul Apfelbaum were ahead of their time. Two decades ago, the then 20-something-year-olds not only established a magazine for those 50 and older; they also created Vermont’s 50-Plus EXPO. “[Paul and I] got the idea 21 years ago after attending a somewhat similar expo in Montreal,” offered Marianne. “We thought it was a great concept. And because we had just started Vermont Maturity Magazine we realized an event would be a great tie-in with the publication.”
The first event, originally called the 50-Plus EXPO, took less than a year to plan and organize. “We did the whole thing in about eight months…we were young then and had vast amounts of energy,” noted Marianne with a laugh.
“That first year was exciting because it was a new event, it was the first event we had ever produced, and we got lots of press coverage because we had Dawn Wells (MaryAnn) from “Gilligan’s Island” at the event hosting a fashion show,” Marianne reminisced. “We even had some teenagers who were big fans of MaryAnn show up dressed in island attire.”
The 50-Plus & Baby Boomer EXPO has expanded every consecutive year. “We added Baby Boomers to the name a couple of years after [the first event] to be sure the public knew that our event was also geared toward Baby Boomers,” said Marianne. “Of course, all ages are welcome.”
In fact, this year’s celebratory event, Saturday, Jan. 31 at the Sheraton-Burlington Hotel & Conference Center from 9am-4pm, features over 100 exhibit booths; seminars and workshops covering everything from health and beauty to money and travel; AcroYoga and acupuncture demos; giveaways including a trip for two to Montreal; Lyric Theatre Musical Revue; a dance party with DJ Charlie Rice; a silent auction and raffle to benefit Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity; art demos; and a Vermont Artisan coffee and tea tasting.
And that’s not all. This year an Elvis Tribute Concert and a Tech Pavilion highlight the event. Professional Elvis impersonator Dana Z, the most sought after Elvis tribute artist in the New England area, will perform from 12-1pm in the Emerald Ballroom. BoomerTECH Adventures will host a technology help desk all day, providing answers to tech questions regarding computers, smartphones and iPads. They will also offer a variety of tech workshops during the event to increase EXPO-goers knowledge and comfort using digital tools and resources.
“I am super excited about the new things we have this year especially the Tech Pavilion—it is a great way for people to get their questions answered about computers, iPads, iPhones, etc.,” Marianne shared. “And the concert, I mean how can you not have fun when you have Elvis in the building?”
Keeping the EXPO new and relevant is the key to its longevity. “Baby Boomers and seniors are kind of like born-again teenagers—very willing to try new things, very curious, and in need of information specific to their life stages. The EXPO provides a great venue for this. Attendees have a lot of fun, get useful information, and can socialize in a very safe and welcoming atmosphere,” Marianne commented. “As for the future, we plan to keep the EXPO growing, to always offer new and exciting things, and to find meaningful ways to serve the wants and needs of Vermont’s Baby Boomer and senior populations.”
Brave the cold, learn something new, and find out if Elvis has left the building. Tickets are only $5 at the door, $4 in advance. Ticket price is all inclusive, except for food concessions. The event is handicap accessible and includes free parking.
For more information, visit www.vermontmaturity.com/expo, call (802) 872-9000 x18, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.