Families will enjoy entertainment and family fun at the annual Explore the South Shore presented by the South Shore CVA. The annual event will be held on May 7, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, Ind. The event is free and open to the public.

The first 200 families to visit will receive a goodie bag filled with special treats and savings from participating organizations. The exhibit hall will be filled with a number of interactive booths featuring giveaways, games and prizes as well as live entertainment and tractor and train rides for children. A number of local mascots will make appearances for photos with families. The Indiana Ballet Theatre will perform at 1:00 p.m. in the exhibit hall.

Explore the South Shore will also feature a book signing and storytelling with Jeff Manes, author of "All Worth Their Salt." The collection of Northwest Indiana interviews tells a story of immigrants, steel mill workers, veterans and ordinary folk. The reading/storytelling will take place in the Theatre at the Indiana Welcome Center at 1:00 p.m. Books will be on sale at the event.

Mitch Markovitz, South Shore Poster artist will also be on-hand to sign South Shore Posters purchased from the Indiana Welcome Center gift shop. No additional fees apply for autographs. Markovitz will sign posters from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Attendees wishing to purchase a Markovtiz poster will receive $5 off any poster on May 7, during the Explore event.

In addition to activities, entertainment and games, Explore the South Shore will provide information on a number of family-fun events along the South Shore in 2016.

Participating organizations include: Cabela's, Challenger Learning Center, ChicagoLand Popcorn, Downtown Hammond Council, Hammond Port Authority/Wolf Lake, Humane Society of Calumet Area, Indiana Ballet Theatre, Lake County Fair, Lake County Parks, Newton County Tourism, Jasper County Tourism, South Shore Arts, Taltree Arboretum and Gardens and Wildlife Education of Northwest Indiana.

Explore the South Shore is a celebratory event in honor of National Travel and Tourism Week; May 1 - 7, 2016