Between 6,000 and 8,000 people flock to the area in the first week of the New Year to the “Let’s Go Fishing Show,” and this year was no different.
A line of fishing aficionados was out the door Saturday morning, waiting to enter the Gateway Center, a sprawling 60,000-square-foot conference center that organizes and serves as host for the major fishing show every year. This is the show’s 24th year running.
Fishing experts and vendors, nearly 130 of them, traveled from 11 states and even Ontario, Canada, this year, according to event coordinator Jamie Lane. The vendors were there to entertain, educate and sell rods, tackle, bait, boats, electronics and gadgets. The vendors alone will spend between $6,000 and $7,000 in local hotel stays, Lane said. The event was sold out to vendors this year.
“This show has a strong reputation,” Lane said. “Some of these vendors have been coming for years. We’re very thankful to them.”
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Though most of the vendors sell a specific fishing product or advertise for a weekend fishing getaway, some vendors provided seminars and interactive exhibits for children. In addition to a fishing pond sponsored by Cabela’s, children had the chance to see wildlife up close at the TreeHouse Wildlife Center’s exhibit. Adele Moore, founder of the wildlife rescue organization, said the most common question she received from attendees was, “Is it real?” Indeed, Casey the red-shouldered hawk perched perfectly still on a stand as onlookers passed by.
“There are lots of outdoor people here, and it’s nice for them to be able to see something they might hear while they’re out fishing,” Moore said. The organization has been attending the event for the past 10 to 12 years, she added.
The show will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 for adults, $3.50 for ages 6 to 15 and free for children 5 and under. Parking is free.