Valley’s sportsmen show reels in sportsmen
Saturday, February 23, 2013
WENATCHEE — Live bears, new boats, rows of dead animal heads and a trout fishing pond proved to be popular draws at the first Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen Show, continuing from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Town Toyota Center.
Vendors, clubs and agencies filled more than 90 booths offering guide services, hunting and fishing supplies, seminars, sage advice and plenty of entertainment for rod, rifle and outdoor enthusiasts young and old.
The center’s main floor and corridors were flooded with men, women and kids, many of them wearing camouflage caps, fishing vests and hunting jackets. Guides and experts offered hunting and fishing tips. Duck and elk calls quacked and squealed from vendors demonstrating their wares. Casting clinics and fly tying classes kept fishermen informed, a gallery of stuffed animal heads held many in awe, and a slippery trout race provided the laughs.
Five black bears in a large cage seemed mostly bored by all the commotion, lounging or sleeping until an occasional onlooker paid to have their photo taken up close with one of the animals separated by a plexiglass divider.
And the fishing was good at Lunker Lake, the kids fishing pond stocked with 1,500 rainbows for the event.
“Do you want to let it go or keep it?” Dave Wahl asked an excited Emma Banker as he pulled a hook from the mouth of a 9-inch rainbow trout.
“Keep it,” smiled Emma, 6, of Wenatchee, proudly holding her pole. “I want to catch one more.”
Dennis Banker, Emma’s grandfather, said inspite of her youth, Emma was an experienced fishergirl.
“We go up to Beehive every spring and she usually outfishes all of us,” he said. “But this is a lot easier.”
Wahl, one of several volunteers manning the pond for the Wenatchee Sportsmen Association, said he felt kind of sorry for the trout, but loved helping the cute kids.
“If it gives them that first feeling of a fish on the line, that’s pretty special stuff,” said Wahl, of Wenatchee.
Vendors seemed to be happy with the big turnout Friday and Saturday.
“This is the best show we’ve done all year,” said Tonya Brence, who rented a booth to display Nimrod Pack Systems. The Cashmere-based company makes camouflage packs for hunters and outdoorsmen. “I’m betting this show will get much larger in the future.”
Merle Shuyler said he’s been wanting to bring the sportsmen show to Wenatchee for several years, but was concerned that there wasn’t a large enough indoor event center to pull it off. He and his wife, Bev, have held similar shows in Yakima’s SunDome for 24 years and for 20 years in Pasco.
“This is a beautiful facility, but it’s small,” Shuyler said. He said he’d like to bring the show back in future years, but he’ll wait to see if the event was profitable before he makes that decision. Income comes mainly from renting the booths out to the vendors.
“Everyone seems to be very happy with how it’s gone so far. But it costs a lot to put a show like this on,” he said.
Rick Steigmeyer: 664-7151
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