The 5th Annual Healthier Lyon County Interactive Healthfest brought around 700 people to the Flinthills Mall on Saturday to learn about and experience healthier options for exercise, nutrition, health care and prevention services.

Organizer Daphne Mertens said the Interactive Healthfest offers alternative ways to learn about healthy options available in the community.

“The healthfest is an excellent way for people of all ages to get out and learn about services and opportunities available in Emporia and Lyon County,” she said. “None of our vendors are allowed to sell anything, so it’s purely a fun, educational event.”

The event is designed to make learning about healthy alternatives engaging through interactive opportunities offered by the more than 30 vendors.

“We keep the event interactive so it’s not just walking around picking up a brochure,” Mertens said. “We want healthfest to be fresh and interesting.”

Thirty-four vendors offered hands-on activities such as a pedal-powered blender bike, an onsite occupational therapist from Holiday Resort, games and demonstrations, a bike from Emporia’s new bike share program and local food from vendors of the Emporia Farmers Market.

Leap of Faith Martial Arts gave participants a chance to practice breaking boards and students at Sunflower Gymnastics showed off their moves.

Emporia State University Health and Human Performance students, under the leadership of Jennifer Thomas, took over the center of the mall with an expansive series of presentations and activities on a range of health topics. Attendees could sample healthy snack options, learn more about stress and pain management and win prizes sponsored by the Emporia Community Foundation.

Senior Autumn Adams said she enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the community because that is what she hopes to do in her career.

“Events like healthfest are the perfect way to interact with the community and educate people about healthy alternatives,” she said. “If we’re making a difference for one person in some way, then it’s worth it.”

Stephanie Brooks from Newman Regional Health welcomed curious patrons to the popular Rethink Your Drink activity. This matching game invited people to match the drink with the amount of sugar in a single serving.

“This is a great way to get education out about this topic,” Brooks said. “I see a lot of shocked faces.”

Another popular attraction was the “smoothie bike” at the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan booth.

A crowd of children watched as 10-year-old Avery Grace pedaled the bike to power the attached blender and make a pitcher of berry smoothies.

Laura Camelos said the bike gets a lot of attention wherever she goes, especially from children.

“We want to encourage healthy activities and nutrition, and the bike is a great way to teach kids to make healthy choices,” she said.

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