COLUMBIA — For about 10 years, Betty Bass came to the annual Mid-Missouri Home and Lifestyles Expo to find ideas for her backyard garden, a peaceful getaway where she and her husband used to eat dinner and watch nature unfold. Under the shade of their oblong gazebo, they watched birds and named one squirrel Earl.
"It's kind of a little paradise away from home," Bass said. "You don't have to go anyplace in paradise."
Now, her backyard paradise is run down because she and her husband have grown too old to tend it, she said. But Bass, 74, still came back to the expo Saturday after her 11-year-old granddaughter eagerly asked Bass to take her.
Bass, who wanted to be an interior decorator when she was younger, has continued coming to the event because of her interest in indoor and outdoor beauty.
The 51st annual Mid-Missouri Home and Lifestyles Expo, held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Hearnes Center, featured colorful exhibits advertising home-related products, such as furniture, decor, TVs, Internet, and heating and air conditioning systems. The event continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Now that it's harder for her to get around, Bass doesn't come every year. But in the past, she has found ideas for remodeling her 1920s-era house and learned about what flowers are suited for shade or sunlight.
"I love beautiful things for myself," she said.
Her granddaughter Carey Bass came for different reasons.
"I just like the looking around part and signing up for contests and getting candy," she said.
Other kids at the expo found their way to the big-screen TV that was part of a D&M Sound exhibit where they put on 3-D glasses to watch the movie Avatar.
"It looks like you're actually right there in the war," Gideon Anderson, 10, said. "The bullet fires from the line of guns looks like it's really firing and everything."
Another exhibit featured photos from the ugliest bathroom contest sponsored by Inside Columbia magazine. People submitted photos of their bathrooms in hopes of winning the $2,500 prize to remodel the room. Those who wish to participate in the contest have until March 15 to send in photos.
"We're hoping people will get wind of this and then say, 'Hey, I have a best friend who has the most awful bathroom,'" Kate Ley, Inside Columbia graphic designer, said.
MU athletic attendant Mussa Omar said he voted at the event for bathroom No. 12.
"Some are just bad-looking, but that one is disgusting," Omar said. "The way it looks, all the mold, is disgusting. You go in there, and you'll come out sick."
After the submission deadline, people will also be able to vote online at the Inside Columbia magazine website.
"There were some really ugly bathrooms," Carey Bass said. "A couple of them didn't even look like bathrooms."