'Girl Meets World' star has fun at Kidz Expo in Chattanooga

'Girl Meets World' star has fun at Kidz Expo in Chattanooga

April 19th, 2015 by Will Healey in Local Regional News

Rowan Blanchard, star of Disney TV show Girl Meets World, center, center, plays a picture matching game with Ashlee Knox, left, and Chloe Fritts during a visit to Erlanger Children's Hospital on Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Chattanooga. Blanchard visited the hospital before appearing at the Kidz Expo.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Rowan Blancahrd, star of the Disney TV show Girl Meets World, speaks during the Kidz Expo on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga. Blanchard was the special guest of the expo.

Rowan Blancahrd, star of the Disney TV show...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

It was all about the "kidz" Saturday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

The downtown event space was transformed with brightly colored balloon arches, inflatable games and costumed characters for the Kidz Expo, presented by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The annual event, now in its fourth year, is meant to be a fun-filled day for babies, toddlers, children, tweens and their families.

Dozens of vendor booths representing area businesses, including sponsors Kelly Subaru, Trust Federal Credit Union, Dr. Keith Dressler and radio stations Hits 96 and Sunny 92.3, were interspersed among inflatable slides and obstacle courses, people making balloon animals, a magician, and a paintball shooting booth.

Families line up to meet Rowan Blancahrd, star of the Disney TV show Girl Meets World, during the Kidz Expo on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga. Blanchard was the special guest of the expo.

Families line up to meet Rowan Blancahrd, star...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

And then there were the characters. Captain Hook made it all the way from Neverland. Darth Vader and his stormtroopers traveled through time and space from a galaxy far, far away to be there. Princesses real and imaginary were there too, with Snow White, Belle and Elsa eliciting squeals of excitement from more than a few young girls, and Miss Tennessee, Miss Chattanooga and Miss Banana Pudding sporting their sashes and posing for pictures.

But most were there to meet the expo's special guest, Rowan Blanchard. The 13-year-old is the star of Disney's "Girl Meets World," a spin-off of the popular ABC show "Boy Meets World," which ran from 1993-2000.

The teen star spent the morning visiting with fans fighting illnesses at Children's Hospital at Erlanger, the expo's title sponsor. Rowan said she had fun playing with the kids at the hospital and enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of her fans face to face.

Antonio McCorkle gets his face painted during the Kidz Expo on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga. Rowan Blanchard, star of the Disney TV show Girl Meets World, was the guest star of the expo.

Antonio McCorkle gets his face painted during the...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

"It's cool to meet the people that watch the show," she said in an interview with the Times Free Press. "At the end of the day, I'm a fan too. I like shows like 'Sherlock' and 'Pretty Little Liars,' so it's nice to meet other fans."

Rowan, who just finished filming a Disney original movie due out this summer, also is excited to resume shooting the second season of "Girl Meets World" this week. She said the cast is like a family, and she understands the legacy that she's now a part of.

"I've had adults come up to me and say, 'We loved "Boy Meets World," and we're so excited for "Girl Meets World,"'" she said. "I know that it isn't just a kid's show, it's a bridge between the two."

More than a sitcom, "Boy Meets World" often tackled serious issues that young teens face, something Rowan hopes to see more of in season two.

"We don't want to shy away from things," she said. "We probably won't delve into issues like drugs and alcohol yet because my character is in middle school, but we want to be the show that tells real life."

Emma Smith shoots a paintball gun at a booth during the Kidz Expo on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga. Rowan Blanchard, star of the Disney TV show Girl Meets World, was the guest star of the expo.

Emma Smith shoots a paintball gun at a...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

The balance of serious and silly is something 10-year-old Reagan Yoder enjoys about "Girl Meets World," which is what compelled her to queue up with a throng of kids and parents for a chance to take a picture with the star on Saturday.

"I like the show because it usually has a message in it," Reagan said.

Rowan was met by enthusiastic cheers when she appeared onstage just after 12:30. A steady stream of fans got up onstage, met Blanchard, posed for a photo, and walked off.

Each moment was over in seconds, but 9-year-old Bailey Keef got the hug she waited months for. Aleah and Aliza Gallaher, 10, giggled and beamed when Blanchard recognized them as twins. Raven Miller, 12, whose face was painted with the Batman emblem, exclaimed, "She's so cool!" after Blanchard told her, "I like your face, Batgirl."

For all of them, it was well worth the wait.

Contact Will Healey at whealey@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

Makena Carter chases after bubbles blown from a booth during the Kidz Expo on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Chattanooga.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

 


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