Previewing Washington's Sportsmen's Shows
John Kruse, January 05, 2020
The new year marks the kick-off to sportsmen’s show season in the Pacific Northwest and there is no shortage of them in the Evergreen State. The shows have evolved over the years. It used to be crowds went there to book trips with the outfitters, guides, resorts and lodges who are exhibitors. Another reason; to get great deals from retailers along with boat and RV dealers who all have significant “show pricing” discounts.
These things are still true, but today, many people go to sportsmen’s shows to learn or to take the family out for a fun day where the outdoors comes indoors! When it comes to the kids there are a lot more than trout ponds at most of these shows. Many of them have multiple activities for children and the smaller shows in particular often tout a major attraction which is usually a big hit.
Then there are the seminars. Lots of hunters and anglers come to listen to guides, tournament pros and other experts help them up their game in the field or on the water. Camp cooking seminars have also carved out a significant space at many shows because they are in such demand. Whatever your reason for attending, you have plenty of shows to choose from this winter. Here’s the line-up for 2020.
TRI-CITIES SPORTSMEN’S SHOW (January 17 – 19 - HAPO Center, formerly the TRAC in Pasco). The main attraction for families is “A Walk on the Wild Side”, featuring exotic animals you can see up close. Television host Richy Harrod will be back with his popular outdoor cooking camp and there will be more RVs and boats on display than ever before. The kids will enjoy the fish pond and the free air rifle range. www.shuylerproductions.com
WASHINGTON SPORTSMEN’S SHOW (January 22 – 26 - State Fair Expo Center in Puyallup). This is the biggest show in Washington State. Bring your antlers to the 33rd annual Head and Horns competition or check out the expanded outdoors cooking competition, featuring well known outdoors chefs who will also put on presentations. The kayak fishing pavilion has grown this year, reflecting the growth of this niche in the world of fishing, and a big tank stocked with walleye will be a great location to see experts who will help you catch some of these tasty fish. www.thesportshows.com
PACIFIC NORTHWEST SPORTSMEN’S SHOW (February 5 – 9 -Expo Center in Portland). This one’s not in Washington but it’s very well attended by Southwest Washington residents and for good reason; it is one of the largest sportsmen’s shows in the entire nation. In addition to hundreds of exhibitors there are multiple locations where seminars are taking place to include the Garmin Tech Center, Walleye Alley, a camp cooking theater, a horse packing area, a theater just for fishing seminars and another for hunting along with a fly-casting pond and outdoors survival area. www.thesportshows.com
CENTRAL WASHINGTON SPORTSMEN’S SHOW (February 14 – 16 - Yakima Sun Dome). This is where Shuyler Productions launched their first sportsmen’s show 31 years ago and it still attracts a good local crowd today. Families with kids enjoy the trout pond, archery shoot, air rifle range and annual trout races that happen at the fly-casting pool. Nick’s Animal Adventures will be a good draw as well as a horn and antler competition. www.shuylerproductions.com
THE FLY FISHING SHOW (Feb 15 -16 - Lynnwood Convention Center). This is the place to be February 15th and 16th if you are into fly fishing. This show travels around the country and features well known experts giving presentations and demos along with a learning area where you can take in the basics of casting and tying flies. Lots of new rods, reels and gear will be on display and there’s a fly-fishing film festival on Saturday night. www.flyfishingshow.com
WENATCHEE VALLEY SPORTSMEN’S SHOW (Feb 21-23- Town Toyota Center). Nick’s Animal Adventures, a free trout fishing pond, Richy Harrod’s Outdoors Cooking Camp and the Northwest Big Game Trophy Display are all attractions this year in addition to daily seminars by local guides and experts about hunting, fishing and outdoors survival. www.shuylerproductions.com
THE 60th ANNUAL BIGHORN OUTDOOR ADVENTURE SHOW (Mar 19-22 – Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds). This is the second largest show in the state. Kids will enjoy the fishing pond, air rifle and archery ranges as well as the “silver mine”. Adults will want to check out the trophy antler competition, the numerous seminars, and of course, purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of the many firearms on display on the Wall of Guns. There is also a Ladies Night on Friday with special giveaways and discounts for women and a Family Day on Sunday where kids 13 and under get in for free. www.bighornshow.com
*Photos: Curt Mendenhall makes custom firearms for hunters and exhibits at sportsmen shows. Photo by John Kruse
The Trophy Competition at the Bighorn Outdoor Adventure Show – Photo courtesy Inland Northwest Wildlife Council
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com