Healthy Family Fair brings 34 exhibitors to Marshalltown High School Roundhouse Saturday

A young boy is shown walking around a giant inflatable replica of a human brain at Saturday’s Healthy Family Fair at the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse. The exhibit was sponsored by Marshall County Public Health. | T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY — Erika Melchor, seated, volunteer services coordinator with the local Animal Rescue League, holds Judd, a German Shepherd-Labrador mix at the Healthy Family Fair, while attendees look on. The event was held Saturday at the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse.

By Mike Donahey, Times-Republican

Many talk about taking charge of their health.

On Saturday, hundreds of central Iowans decided to follow through on that promise by attending the Healthy Family Fair at the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse.


The aisles were full of attendees of all ages, who were walking on the packed George Funk Court while getting information on a wide range of subjects.

There were exhibits and information galore about from physical therapy to mental health to how to keep one’s brain injury-free to maintaining a healthy heart.

There were 34 exhibitors.


One of the most popular was a reddish-pink replica of a giant human brain – an inflatable model big enough for several attendees large and small to walk through at the same time.

It was complete with sulci – the indentions of the brain to a tumor. A sign in English and Spanish explained that tumors can be benign – noncancerous – to malignant – cancerous.

Other signs such as “Be Kind to Your Mind” (“Your brain is important for many functions”) and a poster explaining a concussion were affixed to the display.


Another poster explained Alzheimer’s Disease – “a brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking, and eventually, prevents the ability to do simple tasks.”

Marshall County Public Health (MCPH) sponsored the exhibit as its size required it to occupy a large corner of the Roundhouse.

MCPH director Sydney Grewell was ecstatic with the response.Grewell said the exhibit generated many questions.

“We are excited about the response to the exhibit,” said Grewell. “It has generated questions and given awareness to other work by MCPH.”

Another poster urged readers to wear helmets when riding bicycles or skateboards.


“Have Wheels Under Your Feet or Seat,” it said.

Fittingly, in another aisle, the Marshalltown Matins Kiwanis were handing out free bicycle helmets to children with grateful parents looking on.

Nearby, the Iowa State University Marshall County Extension Office was attracting attendees to its “How Much Sugar is in Your Bevarges? display.

Grisel Chavez of the organization and a colleague were busy explaining the pitfalls of too much sugar.

Many attendees stopped at exhibits sponsored by the Marshalltown Police Department (MPD), Marshalltown Fire Department (MFD) and Marshall County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).

Vehicles from the MFD, and MPD and MCSO were parked outside the entrance to the delight of children.

The event was not limited to health-related businesses and organizations.

Specifically, Erika Melchor of the Animal Rescue League of Marshalltown was accompanied by Judd, a friendly black German Shepherd-Labrador mix who was popular with adults and children alike.

Many petted Judd’s head.


Melchor said Judd was found a ditch and is now available for adoption.

“Judd is micro-chipped and neutered and looking for a good home,” she said.

The local Child Adolescent and Parent Support (CAPS) organization co-sponsored the event.

They were joined by the Community Partnership for Protecting Children, Farmers Savings Bank, Iowa River Valley Early Childhood Area, the Marshalltown Rotary Club, Marshalltown Area United Way, McFarland Clinic and Members 1st Credit Union.

“We are thrilled with today’s turnout,” said Alondra Sanchez of CAPS, who, along with a colleague, was busy greeting attendees.

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