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Attendance increases at expanded Community Health and Wellness Fair

Thursday, April 10, 2014 - Updated: 9:40 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- On Saturday, April 5, the Fourth Annual Community Health and Wellness Fair attracted over 180 attendees, a significant number above the highest previous attendance of around 130.

The continually-expanding event, held for the first time at Fort Plain's Harry Hoag Elementary School, is a combined effort by Fort Plain and Canajoharie child nutrition and wellness committees and parent teacher associations, aimed at bringing local communities together in the name of exposing their residents to a wide variety of health related foods, practices, products. organizations and initiatives.

The first-ever Salad Wars, originally scheduled to include numerous local restaurants, ended up taking place between two Fort Plain eateries, the Table and Dome49, who both prepared tasty, healthful salads.

The southwestern salad prepared by Richard Brown, of Dome49, contained grilled chicken, roasted corn, black beans, avocado, red onion, cabbage, roasted red peppers, cilantro, lime juice and tortilla chips. Brown said the best thing about his salad, aside from the fact that it's straightforward and easy to create, is that it's "versatile." He suggested using tomatoes instead of peppers, scallions instead of onions, or lettuce instead of cabbage, for instance.

Aaron Katovitch, of the Table at Fort Plain, created a quinoa salad, choosing it because it's "a very efficient grain," containing all seven essential amino acids, which the body converts like protein.

The salad included roasted sunflower seeds, walnuts, feta cheese, cucumber, dried cranberry, roasted carrots, arugula, sherry vinaigrette and the final ingredient -- duck breast, which Katovitch said he put on top "just to make it a little more fun."

The judges, Mauranda Comley and Maria Burton, home and career teachers in Canajoharie and Fort Plain respectively, thought both salads were wonderful, commenting of Dome49's, "it was the best use of ingredients around the culinary theme," and stating of the Table at Fort Plain's, "it had the most interesting blend of flavors in a salad."

Booths lined the hallways and open spaces leading to the cafeteria, which was loaded with more booths, many providing free products and demonstrations along with information. In the background, music pumped from the gymnasium as packed ZUMBA classes took place throughout the three-hour event, while In the library there were numerous areas set up, including one where three practitioners of healing touch demonstrated the process, another devoted to massage, and a chiropractic area.

Lotus Center Owner/Operator Val Lawson, along with massage therapists Brandy Rickard and Tamara Mang, provided massage demonstrations, with Lawson explaining the many benefits of massage. 

Lawson explained that much of massage is about energy, and massage therapists are trained to know certain points where blockages may accumulate. Much of the process is about opening those blockages, directing the physical energy properly while extracting negative energy.

Though Lawson said sometimes people are hesitant to try massage, she said that demonstrations such as Saturday's are extremely helpful in introducing the process to curious individuals. She said, "once you get somebody on the table, it breaks that barrier," adding that from 9:15-10:15 a.m. alone, about 25 people received free massages.

Tying in with the posture-based practice of massage were postural screenings by Spraker Hill Chiropractic, of Canajoharie. Owner Darlene Euler explained that the postural screenings are important in maintaining a straight spine, stating, "we're looking for symmetry in the spine." Many peoples' spines contain curvatures, she said, originating from a variety of causes.

On Saturday, a 15-year-old girl came in with a curvature, and Euler pointed out that it's very important to keep on top of such cases, explaining, "We really want to check them with chiropractic care to slow that down," which will potentially avoid extreme measures in the future, such as the insertion of metal rods.

The Child Nutrition Committee had a booth set up in the school's lobby, handing out samples of Wowbutter, a soy alternative to peanut butter. Child Nutrition Committee Member Todd McFee explained the mission of the group, which echoed the mission of the event -- "to raise awareness of eating and being healthy, and leading a healthy lifestyle." He noted that in accomplishing that mission, the Fort Plain/Canajoharie/OESJ Food Service Director Lauri Broady teaches a class that helps students read labels at grocery stores, also promoting healthy eating on district menus. 

The PTAs of both districts also gave reusable grocery bags to all attendees, which each contained a variety of donated items, including Dole salad coupons, medicine samples, tomatoes in a bag, yogurt and bottled water.

While it's never too late to start educating people about healthy practices, both districts are incredibly proactive when it comes to early education, as implementing healthful practices at a young age can ingrain those ideas, leading to a healthy, well-lived life.

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