Liz Deken handed out bags of compost and instructed passersby on how to reduce the amount of waste they produce — all in a day’s work for a volunteer member of the Waste Minimization Team with the Columbia Public Works Department.
“I’m a huge tree-hugging hippie,” Deken said.
Deken’s booth was one of the 150 exhibited at the 47th annual Mid-Missouri Home and Garden Show, each with a display to catch the eyes of the 10,000 consumers there. The event began at the Hearnes Center on Friday. While some vendors showcased their products and services in traditional ways, some tried different approaches to set themselves apart from the other exhibits.
Aside from composting tips, Deken’s booth advised consumers about recycling, trash collection and other public works services.
Recycling information was part of what Christina Fritschi was looking for at the Home and Garden Show. Fritschi moved to Columbia with her husband and three sons recently so her husband could take a new job as a professor at MU.
Fritschi was at the Home and Garden Show because she needs “everything,” she said. “We need to remodel our entire home.”
Turner Schuster, a junior at Hickman High School and president of the Columbia Police Department Cadet Corp., a group of high school students who volunteer with the Police Department, attracted the attention of children with a remote control police car.
Inside the child-sized police car rode McGruff, the crime-fighting dog. Shuster wore a headset to control the voice of McGruff, promoting car safety among children.
“I get some kids who just grin and have fun with it,” Schuster said, “but last year, I sent one kid running the length of the field house here crying.”
Even so, he said the remote control car and talking dog often put children at ease.
“There’s little stuff about him, like he’s got his seat belt on,” Schuster said. “It’s not as imposing as an officer with a badge and a gun, and it’s something you can have fun with.”
Katie Brummel, of the operations department with Mid-America Wireless, a wireless communications company, also tried to attract customers by using a life-size character. But her approach was different — she was dressed as a pig to convince customers to “stop feeding the cable pig.”
“I enjoy being in the middle of the action, so that’s the reason I wanted to do it,” Brummel said.
Like Schuster, Brummel received an enthusiastic response from children at the show.
“Kids blow me kisses; little boys give me high fives. That’s my favorite part,” Brummel said.
The Home and Garden Show continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Hearnes Center. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12.