Westmoreland Home Show offers more exhibits, live performances

| Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The 19th annual Westmoreland Home Show has expanded this year with more exhibits, entertainment and other new attractions to entice visitors to the event April 12 and 13 at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds.

“It's a great two days to break the winter blues,” says Kelly Simon, event manager for the Home Show. “It's designed for a family event. There is plenty to do.”

Simon, of Kelly Simon Event Management, says in past years between 6,000 and 7,000 people had attended the annual spring show.

“The home show gives people the opportunity to see products for home and garden in one place,” Simon says. “They can look at local businesses dealing mostly with local dealers. People like face-to-face business. This is an environment where they are not in a rush. The people at the booths are skilled and knowledgeable.”

The show is about 20 percent larger than last year, according to Simon. More than 100 exhibitors of home improvement and repair, remodeling, building, decorating and landscaping will occupy 150 booths in four buildings.

“Another building will be for the Gigantic Community Garage Sale and Flea Market,” Simon said. “There will be 50 booths of bargains, treasures and collectibles.”

Other new attractions are an outdoor family carnival and game booths. Visitors can sample and purchase wines from Pennsylvania wineries. The event will include a farmers market with baked goods, jewelry and quilts, food booths and giveaways.

Visitors who donate a nonperishable food item for the Westmoreland County Food Bank will receive one free admission with a paid admission.

Drake Bell performance

One of the highlights of the home show is entertainment by Drake Bell, who gained television fame as Drake Parker on Nickelodeon's “Drake and Josh.” Bell, who will release a new record April 22 titled “Ready Steady Go,” is scheduled to perform a mini concert at noon April 12, and he will be available for photos and autographs until 3 p.m.

That guitar was no act for Bell.

“Music has always been my passion,” says Bell, 27, a singer, songwriter and guitarist. “I love music, performing, writing, anything. This is what I have always wanted to do.

“Whether it is in studio or on stage, I give 110 percent. Music is so personal. When you are writing and performing a song, you can be truly yourself and be vulnerable. It is a great outlet to express yourself. I love writing songs about something I have experienced in my life, or just about a story I want to share. It all comes from my heart and soul.”

Bell has developed a throwback '50s rockabilly style with a mix of pop and rock and roll.

“I had so many influences growing up, like Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, the Beach Boys, the Stray Cats, Buddy Holly and the Beatles,” Bell says.

“I hope I can bring back a little bit of that rock and roll music people used to love,” he says. “A lot of the records nowadays sound the same, with similar beats and songs. ‘Ready Steady Go' has some fun songs that people can rock to, other songs that people can dance to, and heart-warming ballads. People can relate to them. I want it to be reminiscent of what albums used to be. And I want my fans to dig deeper in their musical knowledge and discover all these types of music I grew up loving.”

Bell collaborated with his idol, 1980s American rockabilly icon Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats, to create the new music.

“Sitting with Brian in the studio and hearing him play guitar to my vocals and giving suggestions for my album was incredible,” says Bell, who co-wrote three tracks on the album. Other songs include his rendition of Queen's “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and Billy Joel's “It's Still Rock and Roll to Me.”

As an actor, Bell's career extended to the big screen. He had roles in “Jerry Maguire,” “High Fidelity,” “Super Hero Movie,” “College,” “The Fairly Odd Parents “live action franchise, “Yours, Mine & Ours” and his is the voice of the animated Spider-Man in “Ultimate Spider-Man” on Disney XD. He has won 10 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards.

Debbie Black is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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