by Carla Ruschival

February is filled with Valentines and wintry weather, but it is time to begin making plans to attend the 2007 ACB convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Convention week (June 30 through July 7) will teem with workshops, speakers, tours and activities. The exhibit hall will be open Saturday through Thursday; from high-tech to low-tech, you'll spend many hours checking out the latest products for the blind and visually impaired.

ACB, special-interest affiliates, and companies and agencies from across the country combine to offer an incredible array of educational seminars, focus groups, speakers, discussion groups and social events. Whether your interest is education, law, computers, rehabilitation or business, whether you are a student or a parent, retired or unemployed, whether you are a braille reader or a guide dog user or visually impaired or a diabetic or hearing-impaired, you will find plenty of general sessions and small group meetings to whet your appetite. There are special activities for blind Lions, library users, artists and musicians, and much, much more.

But convention isn't all work and no play. There will be many fun activities at the hotels, and Minneapolis and the surrounding area are packed with interesting things to do. A great pre-convention tour (Friday, June 29) will visit Mason City, Iowa (home of the great play "Music Man" and the site of the last performance by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper before they were killed in a plane crash in the mid-1950s). Other tours throughout the week will let you shop till you drop at the Mall of America (it has over 500 stores and restaurants), enjoy a fantastic sensory tour about milling and flour-making and ride the Flour Tower at the Mill City Museum, explore historic Fort Snelling, and try your luck at hitting the jackpot at a local casino, just to name a few. Watch for more tour details next month.

There's lots of family fun planned for Minneapolis. The Youth Activity Center (YAC) has grown so much that we will offer some separate programs for teens and the younger set this year. YACsters (kids between 6 and 17) will have the opportunity to visit fabulous historic and fun sites; there will be lots of hands-on activities, so blind kids are welcome.

There's so much more to tell, but I'm out of space! For now, get started on the road to Minneapolis by making your hotel reservations at the Hyatt Regency ($81 single/double, $91 triple/quad; 1-800-233-1234), or at the Millennium ($84 single/double, $94 triple/quad; 1-800-522-8856). Rates are quoted per night, and do not include tax. If you have convention questions or special concerns, contact me at (502) 897-1472 or by e-mail at [email protected]; or call the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.

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