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Expo's returning acts are crowd favorites

Many crowd favorites will be making repeat appearances April 6 at the Woodbury Community Expo.

The entertainment at this year's Expo will include the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, magician Brian Richards and Ronald McDonald.

"Our focus on entertaining the children of the community has been a key focus," said Heidi Hickey, member services director for the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce and Woodbury Community Expo coordinator.

Hickey said Expo committee members wanted to make sure to bring back past entertainment this year that has been popular.

"A lot of it is dealing with tradition," she said. "They remember it, so it's important to bring it around again."

Magic and education

Educational magician Brian Richards will be bringing his signature magic show back to the Woodbury Community Expo main stage this year.

Richards will perform from 10:20-10:50 a.m.

He said children can expect a "fun" magic show this year, even though typically he incorporates different educational themes like conflict resolution, drug awareness, reading motivation and personal safety into his act.

"I love that aspect of teaching kids and I find that magic is a wonderful tool to grasp their attention," he said. "They take it to heart."

Richards said his show will also require a lot of audience participation.

"They're in as much of the show as I am," he said.

Additionally, each child will receive a "big buck," which teaches them how to do two different magic tricks.

In addition to his stage performance, Richards will also be appearing at the Primrose Schools booth where he will be doing additional magic.

Primrose Schools is sponsoring Richards' performance.

'Everyone loves Ronald'

Ronald McDonald will be back again at the Woodbury Community Expo with his signature magic and comedy show.

The McDonald's mascot will perform from 11:30-11:50 a.m.

Ronald McDonald will also be incorporating the message of exercise into his performance.

"It's important for everyone to exercise and encourage people to have a healthy lifestyle," said Dan Rooney, creative director for McRooney Entertainment.

Rooney said Ronald McDonald is always a crowd pleaser because children and adults alike have fond memories of him.

"Everyone loves Ronald," he said. "Adults remember Ronald when they were kids and there's a really special bond between Ronald and kids."

Rooney said teaching messages through Ronald McDonald is a great way to reach children.

"Ronald walks out on stage and he's already earned their trust," he said. "Everyone knows him, loves him and listens to him. They're already going to listen to him anyway, so let's take advantage of that."

Birds of prey on display

The University of Minnesota Raptor Center will be back again this year with its educational program.

The Raptor Center will be on the main stage from 2-2:45 p.m.

During the program, a presenter from the Raptor Center will bring three different "raptors," or birds of prey, and showcase what makes them unique.

Gail Buhl, of the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, said some of the possible birds that will be showcased included a red tailed hawk, a peregrine falcon, a kestrel falcon or a great horned owl.

"We might go for the larger birds so it's easier for people to see," she said. "Everyone likes to see these birds up close because in the wild you don't have a chance to see the birds as close as you would like.

Buhl said the biggest benefits of teaching children and adults about raptors, and allowing them to see them up close is that it helps them understand the predatory birds better.

"People have a love-hate relationship with predators," she said. "The presentations help people find a balance and a higher level of tolerance.

"Learning how to live with them as neighbors is a very good thing - we need to embrace it."

Buhl said she expects the presentation at the Expo to be a good time.

"It'll be fun," she said, "and maybe a little unpredictable because you never know what the birds are going to do."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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