HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Utah's military families were invited to a back-to-school fair at Hill Air Force Base Thursday.

Attendees received free school supplies and met with representatives from local school districts, child recreation leagues and special education services.

Judith Maughan, school liaison officer at Hill Air Force Base, said the event is in its third year. In addition to the school supplies, the fair included an "educational magician" who blended family entertainment with discussion of topics like bullying.

"Each year we try to do something special," she said. "It's kind of a big night for the families and a fun night we hope."

Maughan said there are approximately 900 families living on base, including just less than 2,000 children. Those children typically attend either Weber or Davis school districts, she said, and representatives from both school systems participated in the fair.

She said the fair was open to Utah's military families, whether they live on base or not. She said the goal of the event is to say "thank you" to then men and women serving in the armed forces and to welcome new families to the community.

"It really is a way that the community has to thank our airmen, sailors and soldiers," Maughan said. "If you wanted to come from Logan or Provo to participate, we don't care."

Tammy Custer, a Hill Air Force Base special needs coordinator, also said a number of groups representing early-child development and special education were on hand at the event. She said Hill is frequently a chosen destination for families with developmentally challenged children because of the quality of nearby service centers like Primary Children's Medical Center. A key goal of the fair, she said, was to provide information to parents with concerns.

"It gives them that area to ask questions with no threat," Custer said

Maughan said organizers were helped by the Junior Leadership Council, Operation Homefront and other local groups in putting the event together and gathering supplies.

"It would be impossible for us to collect this much without them," she said.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com