MONTREAL — Oh baby, my how you've grown!Place Bonaventure plays host to the 15th edition of the Parents and Kids Fair, which continues today and tomorrow. Louise Benoit, the event president and founder, says if you're expecting, then she's expecting you."Families need all the help they can get," Benoit said. "So I like to think of the show as an important tool for new parents."The Parents and Kids Fair is designed for expectant mothers, couples planning a family or families with children ages up to 6. On hand are exhibitors offering everything from financial services to baby food, furniture to photography studios."These women and families are so busy. They work, run a house, have lots of activities, manage a family — they sometimes need to recharge. They need a time out of their own," Benoit said. "So we offer tips on learning how to be a parent."Now a grandmother herself, Benoit says that when she first started the fair, there was nothing else like it in the area."I saw a lot of moms with babies and strollers and I thought to myself: there was a camping show, a car show, a wine show — but no show for new parents," she said.
Already working in the events and promotions trade industry, Benoit decided to start her own fair. And over the years, the show has grown — from about 60 exhibitors when she first started to now about 250 exhibitors with some 55 newcomers this year alone. Visitors have increased as well. Benoit expects upwards of 50,000 visitors, not including the youngest kids who get in free.Specialized baby food and health product exhibitors are a popular draw. Based in Sherbrooke, Boutique Mère Poule offers natural health care products for mother and child. Soylutions offers natural and healthy drinks and shakes. And yes, you can purchase items on site like clothing, furniture, educational toys and scrapbooking kits.The site features a birthing pavilion aimed at expecting families. On hand will be representatives who will share information on natural child birthing, adoptions and health concerns ranging from spina bifida to child allergies.The fair also boasts a number of activities that offer serious fun. Montreal's fire department and Urgences Santé offer information on how to make your home a safer place."And we introduce the kids to a real ambulance," Benoit said. "So if any day the kids are involved in an accident, they hopefully won't be as nervous."Playtex offers Le Beach Party Banana Boat, a sandbox of enormous proportions where families can play in a big way while learning about water safety and skin care protection from the sun. Fashion shows are held throughout the weekend and feature maternity clothes as well as clothes for kids.The youngest visitors can also enjoy roving clowns, mascots and face-painting. And Movies for Mommies offers info on local film screenings for moms and their babies who need a well-deserved break.
The Parents and Kids Fair takes place today and tomorrow at Place Bonaventure (in the west hall). Entrance is at Mansfield and de la Gauchetiere streets downtown. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission costs $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors and free for children 12 and under. Free supervised day care is available on site. Call (450) 227-7221 or visit www.parentsandkidsfair.com.