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Sixth-annual Expo provides prizes, lessons and fun for community

Lauren Wood / The Natchez Democrat — Bandera, one of Hank Hough’s black Labradors, grabs a stuffed sheep as he makes his way through the crowd back to Hough on stage Thursday night at the sixth annual Highland Wildlife Expo.

vidalia — Jeremy and Tracy Bradley enjoyed the Highland Wildlife Expo so much the first time they went, they decided they wanted someone to come pick them up and take them to this year’s event Thursday.

Jeremy and Tracy are both legally blind, and they said the hospitality at the event is what brought them back this year.

“We enjoy the fellowship and prizes,” Jeremy said. “I’m not much of a hunter, so whatever we win we sell it to my dad. But we’re both visually impaired, and they give us wonderful service.”

Lauren Wood / The Natchez Democrat — Seven-year-old Taylor Price swings down a hammer to build a birdhouse Thursday night at the expo.

Highland Baptist Church hosted its sixth-annual Wildlife Expo Thursday night at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center, and event organizer Bruce McCall said this year’s event was another success.

McCall said more than 1,100 people attended the expo, but it was a couple of four-legged guests that stole the show.

Hank Hough of Kingdom Dog Ministries was the focus speaker, and through a demonstration of the abilities of his dogs Preacher and Bandera, he showed the effect God has on all creatures.

“They demonstrate the word of God through a visual window,” Hough said. “They are not dogs. They are 21st-century weapons for the Lord.”

Hough said the dogs provide examples on life, parenting and combatting temptation.

“God didn’t give me a puppy to have a cause in life. He gave me a puppy to train it for a cause, and that’s the same as having a child,” Hough said.

Thursday’s expo featured more than 30 booths displaying a variety of outdoor, hunting and weaponry products.

Vicksburg’s Bill Mangum made his second appearance at the expo, and he was in town displaying his homemade, custom knives.

Mangum said he likes getting the opportunity to show off his knives, but the expo allows him to share his craft with new people.

“I just enjoy the whole cause, and I like that I get to meet a lot of people,” Mangum said.

Katherine Chamberlin, 10, of Concordia Parish was at the event with her grandmother, Shirley Booth. Katherine said she is a big camper, and she enjoyed looking at all of the camping products available.

“I just like the feeling of camping,” she said. “I like the experience of being out in the woods.”

Katherine said the highlight of the expo for her was the display of stuffed and mounted wildlife.

“I liked looking at the animals,” she said. “I really like the baby bobcat. It was cute. It looked like a kitten.”

Ryan McGaughey brought his sons Phoenix, 8, and Latham, 7, to the expo, and the boys really enjoyed the activities in the “Kid’s Section,” they said.

“We went in a mole hole, and I touched a snake,” Phoenix said.

Latham said he enjoyed seeing the bearskin rug that was on display and was impressed with the size of its teeth.

Ryan’s favorite part of the expo was the antique weapons on display in the adult section of the expo.

“I liked the guns from the Civil War era,” he said. “It’s a part of history.”