Hundreds of seniors turned out for the 2019 Flint Hills Senior Life Fair in the Anderson Building at the Lyon County Fairgrounds Wednesday.
The fair is an annual event that provides a day of entertainment and education for seniors and caregivers as a way to connect them with community resources.
“We’ve had big numbers of people and a lot of vendors came in,” Senior Life Fair Committee Chairman David Hurlocker said. “Two of the big reasons we do it is because we want seniors to get together and enjoy their day. It’s like having a reunion here, they just enjoy a little time together with the fellowship and the meal, but we also want to get them together with resources that are here locally.”
Hurlocker said it was important for seniors to know what services are available to them locally to help them with health care, residential services and more.
“That’s what our vendors do,” he said. “They’re not just here to do the senior ‘trick-or-treating’ as we sometimes call it; they’re here to make sure our seniors have everything they need to know in one place in one day, and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s tiring, but fun.”
Educational sessions this year included chair yoga, learning about mental health for seniors and a presentation on healthy eating.
Some of the vendors participating in Wednesday’s event were the Emporia Public Library, CrossWinds Counseling & Wellness, Flint Hills Community Health Center and Kansas Talking Books.
Maggie Witte, an outreach librarian with Kansas Talking Books, said her program was designed to help seniors and individuals with visual impairments access audiobooks and magazines, as well as braille books and magazines.
“People have said it’s a lifesaver for them,” Witte said. “It’s a way for them to experience that joy of books again.”
Witte said there is an application required to access books through the program. The application can be found at www.kslib.info/talking or by calling the office at Emporia State University at 341-6280.
“We’re always happy to have anybody to call us,” she said. “That’s what we are there for.”
This year’s keynote speaker was “The Mayberry Deputy” David Browning, a returning favorite to the senior fair.
Browning, who makes appearances as “Barney Fife” from The Andy Griffith Show, spoke about the value of laughter and making the world a better place. The secret, he said, was living your life as a “deputy,” and he just so happened to have created an acronym to help out his audience along the way.
“The ‘d’ is this: decide to make a difference,” he said. “Decide to make a difference in somebody’s life. ... Change their life for three seconds. There’s nothing wrong with lifting another person up. There’s nothing wrong, and there’s no medicine that cures what a laugh cures.”
The ‘e’ stands for energizing the people around you. The ‘p’ encourages you to prove you’re worthy of another’s friendship.
“The ‘u’ in deputy is never stop learning to use your talent,” Browning said. “Never stop learning. I’m so pleased today that I brought a couple of my paintings, because I never knew that I could paint. A few years ago I started painting, and I’m not the best in the world, but I enjoy it so much.”
Browning said it was important for people to find things they enjoy to do and keep working at them.
The ‘t’ in deputy stands for talking with each other, not to each other. Browning said it’s important now more than ever — in an era where social media makes it so easy to keep people glued to their cell phones or computer screens — to engage people in real, face-to-face conversations.
Finally, the ‘y’ in deputy stands for something pretty simple.
“Yesterday is yesterday,” Browning said. “It’s gone. But, when you take all of the d-e-p-u-t that I talked about and put it into your vocabulary, even though ‘y,’ yesterday is gone, you can add another ‘t’ — today. Today is a day — no matter where we are in life — today is a day that we can make great. Today is a day that we can make great for somebody else. We can be that thing that somebody might remember for the rest of their lives.”