New products and old favorites highlight Spring Expo

If you go ...

What: 29th KRAI and 55 Country Spring Expo

When: Noon to 7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way

— The event features vendors, a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots tournament, and weenie dog and baby races. For more information, visit www.krai.com.>

Quotable

“The wiener dog race is always huge, it’s so much fun. We started that 11 years ago and typically have 25 to 35 dogs participate and hundreds of people who turn out to watch.”

— KRAI radio station owner Frank Hanel

It’s been a Craig staple for almost three decades and an event as much about good times as it is local businesses.

The 29th annual KRAI and 55 Country Spring Expo begins at noon today at Centennial Mall, 1111 W. Victory Way, featuring a range of local businesses and nonprofit groups.

The expo is designed for businesses to showcase new products and services, and provide customers with an opportunity to purchase items for home, work and play.

KRAI owner Frank Hanel said Saturday’s weenie dog and crawling baby races are the weekend’s main draws.

“The wiener dog race is always huge, it’s so much fun,” Hanel said. “We started that 11 years ago and typically have 25 to 35 dogs participate and hundreds of people who turn out to watch.”

Hanel has owned two Dachshunds in his lifetime and admits the idea was spurred because of his love of the breed.

“It’s a wiener fest,” Hanel said. “It’s just the cutest dog gum thing.”

Weenie dog races take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Registration begins at the radio station at 9 a.m.

In addition to the always-popular Dachshund race, Hanel said this year’s expo will also feature crawling baby races.

“That’s always fun, too, and we have had as many as 20 babies participate in the past,” Hanel said. “But, it’s just for crawlers, so if they stand up they’re disqualified.”

Parents are encouraged to lure their babies to the finish line with favorite toys, pets or even grandma, Hanel said.

The race takes place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Registration begins at 11 a.m. at the radio station.

Although weenie dog and baby racing have been expo features for years, Hanel is drawing off the popularity of the 2011 movie “Real Steel” to hopefully add a new interactive community event.

“I thought that was a great movie, so we’re going to have three or four Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robot boxing games set up,” Hanel said. “At a minimum they’ll be out there for kids and adults to play with, but I’m hoping we’ll get enough interest to have a tournament Saturday afternoon.”

In terms of businesses, Hanel said residents can expect to see many longtime participants including Rocky Mountain Machinery, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, Inc., The Copy Shop, Extreme Power Sports of Steamboat Springs, American Legion Post 62, Wyman Museum and many others.

The expo will also feature a handful of newcomers, including Outlaw Daltons Guns & Tactical Accessories, a startup company owner Grant Dalton currently runs out of his home at 858 Ranney St.

Although Dalton is a Class 3 firearms dealer and licensed to sell silencers, fully automatic weapons and short barrel rifles, residents will not be able to purchase display firearms at the expo.

“Right now I’ll have some firearms there, non-lethal defense items like pepper spray and a lot of literature for people to read,” Dalton said. “I’m just starting out, so it’s more about getting out some information.”

Hanel estimates 3,000 to 4,000 people will walk through Centennial Mall today and tomorrow.

“We’ve got a lot of good things going on,” he said. “Food, events, cool businesses. It’s going to be a good time.”

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