I’ve had the opportunity to attend two sportsmen’s shows in recent days. The first was the Tri-Cities Sportsmen’s Show at the Hapo Center in Pasco, a great little show I visited at the end of January. The first week of February was spent at the Washington Sportsmen’s Show at the fairgrounds in Puyallup; Washington State’s largest sportsmen’s show.
At both shows it was nice to see both exhibitors and the crowds coming back now that Covid Pandemic restrictions are in the rear-view mirror. These shows also bring the great outdoors indoors for fishing, hunting and outdoors enthusiasts looking for something to do in the middle of winter.
There are a number of great reasons to attend these shows. One reason is to learn. Sportsmen’s shows always feature seminars from experts talking about specific fishing techniques for different species or hunting tactics for everything from big game to turkey to waterfowl. Learning to use marine electronics is another seminar topic as are survival skills. Most of these seminar speakers have booths at the shows. Some are selling gear ranging from fire starters to game calls to fishing rods or lures. Others are guides and outfitters booking spring and summer trips for saltwater salmon, freshwater steelhead, bass, walleye or trout.
On the hunting front you can book hunts not only deer, elk and bear in the Western U.S., but also hunts in British Columbia, Alaska or overseas where you can go on an African safari to either hunt and harvest an animal or just capture photos with your camera.
I have noticed show goers have been in a buying mood this year. There are a whole bunch of attendees walking around with newly purchased fishing rods in their hands and there are some high-ticket items for sale too. That includes sport fishing boats suitable for freshwater lakes or Puget Sound, RV trailers and a new, expanding category, overlanding vehicles with pop up tents or campers designed to travel rough four-wheel drive roads or trails on our expansive public lands where your campsite is literally where ever you choose to stop for the night.
If you want to travel to an outdoorsy destination, you have plenty of places to choose from ranging from Alaskan fishing lodges to family run resorts in Washington, single or multi-day river rafting trips in Idaho, or adventures in Mexico on the Baja peninsula.
Sportsmen’s shows are great events for families to attend too. Trout ponds are staples at sportsmen’s shows, allowing young kids the chance to reel in hatchery raised rainbow trout. Show producers often have a “passport” for kids to fill out at different exhibitor booths featuring items or activities of interest to young children. Family friendly activities you often find at sportsmen’s shows include archery ranges, air rifle ranges, or a chance to mine for treasure, a popular attraction at the Spokane Bighorn Show.
Then there are the main attractions. Every show producer has one or more. This year at the Washington Sportsmen’s Show it was the Paul Bunyon Lumberjack Show featuring axe throwing, wood cutting and log rolling lumberjacks who put on an entertaining show for audiences. At the Tri-Cities show the feature attraction was Tag The Grizzly Bear who has appeared in countless movies, commercials and television shows during his life.
If you haven’t had a chance to go to a sportsmen’s show yet this winter you still have some options to include: The Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show at the Expo Center in Portland – February 14 - 18, which is the second largest sportsmen’s show in the nation. www.thesportshows.com. The Central Washington Sportsmen’s show, under new ownership – at the Sun Dome in Yakima is February 24 - 26, www.jlmproductionsllc.com. The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s Bighorn Outdoor Adventure Show – at the Interstate Fairgrounds in Spokane, is March 16 - 19, www.inwc.org.
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com
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