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March 4, 2009

Press Release: Martinsville Bulletin

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Animal lovers will find plenty to see and do today at Fast Track 2009.

Several exhibits at the annual trade show, organized by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, pertain to animals.

Infinity Acres Petting Ranch has exotic live animals at its booth. The animals included an 8-month-old pig and a baby goat, as well as a coti mundi - a Central American species that resembles a raccoon with a long nose - and a sugar glider, a tiny marsupial found in Australia that has large eyes.

Rick Steere, owner of Infinity Acres, said he and his wife, Laura, bring their animals to the trade show because "we want people to know how much we love our animals."

They are not the only ones who love their animals. Their exhibit constantly was surrounded by visitors - adults and children alike - at the trade show for VIP Night on Tuesday.

"Parents seem to enjoy them (the animals) as much as their kids," Steere said.

The SPCA of Martinsville and Henry County has a couple of cats and several dogs at Fast Track 2009. While the cats are in cages, volunteers often walk the dogs, which are gentle, through the crowd at the show.

SPCA Marketing Director Chase Inman said each of the animals is available for adoption at the trade show. Each has been spayed or neutered, she said.

The Virginia Museum of Natural History's exhibit features a large lion, but it no longer is alive. The lion is part of the museum's collections.

"He's gorgeous," said Carolyn Seay, the museum's special events manager. She added that a lion is "the ultimate specimen of natural history" because "he's the king of the jungle."

Seay said having animals on display is important in educating people about them.

"You can talk about it all day long," but people tend to be more interested when they can see part of natural history up close, she said.

Not all of the unique exhibits at Fast Track 2009 focus on animals.

The Horsepasture Rescue Squad's exhibit features a device that administers chest compressions to people needing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, freeing up emergency medical technicians to do other lifesaving tasks.

"It's the best in patient care," and Horsepasture is the first rescue squad in the county with training to use the device, said squad member Jack Edwards.

Among other unique exhibits are one by the Nelson Automotive Family that features a 2009 Cadillac CTS and a restored 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle, and a Hand-n-Hand Companion exhibit featuring a bed, washing machine, stove and clothes rack.

The latter exhibit is designed to show that Hand-n-Hand provides services such as helping people in need change bed linens, prepare food, wash their clothes and get dressed.

A record 139 businesses and organizations are participating in Fast Track 2009, which is open to the public from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the old VF/Bassett Walker complex off Rives Road. Admission is $3.