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NCIL offers good times

Superior Telegram

The hot dog stand at the Mariner Mall reopens for one day only. Thursday. Visitors can enjoy free hot dogs, sloppy Joes and picnic fare served from the kiosk as part of North Country Independent Living’s 2014 Empowerment Expo. The second annual event will stretch across much of the mall, featuring about 50 organizations and vendors. This isn’t your average informational open house. Comedy, music, belly dancing, yoga and karate demonstrations are planned. A Stormtrooper is expected to stop by. Visitors try their hand at the candy grab, take a power wheelchair for a test drive, create an origami work of art and even apply for a job.

There will be something for everybody, said LeeAnn Myers, personal care program specialist with North Country Independent Living. The expo, which runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is a showcase in more ways than one.

“We want to not only make the community aware of people with disabilities,” said John Nousaine, director of North Country Independent Living. “As importantly we want to make them aware of the talents of people with disabilities and the contributions they make.”

Athletes with disabilities will be among the performers, local entrepreneurs with disabilities will feature their businesses and products at some of the tables. The event is family-friendly, said Myers. She took her two daughters to last year’s expo and they had a great time. Her favorite part of the day was when she performed with the belly dancers and children in the audience joined in.

Last year’s event was fun, Nousaine said. “It energized us.” So they’re at it again.

In addition to free food and entertainment, there will be a silent auction and drawings for more than $3,000 worth of prizes, including a carved owl from Grizz Works, Blues Fest tickets, Spirit Mountain ski passes, golf passes, restaurant gift cards, clothing and more. Individuals and businesses will be recognized with awards.

For more information, call 715-392-9118, email .