In a part of January that usually sees the kickoff of fishing, hunting and boat show season in the Northwest, event organizers are instead having to continue adjusting to the pandemic.
It’s out with in-person big-antler competitions and in with a digital photo contest in Western Oregon, where another show has also been pushed back three months, while a major show/fundraiser in Spokane has had to cancel for a second straight year.
The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council this week said it won’t hold the Big Horn Show in March and instead will be back “bigger and stronger” in 2022.
“This difficult decision was made after spending this past year reviewing the restrictions in place, the progression of Covid-19, the safety/viability of an event our size, along with concerns for our community,” the venerable club announced on the show website.
Vaccines have begun to become available but coronavirus case numbers are still high relative to last spring in Washington and Oregon.
INWC Executive Director Marie Neumiller pointed to uncertainty around Governor Inslee’s restrictions on fairgrounds, as well as a desire to provide guides, lodges, sporting goods companies and other vendors enough time to figure out alternative plans for the mid-March timeframe, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
While the Big Horn Show brings in as much as 90 percent of INWC’s annual revenues, Neumiller felt strongly that the organization would be able make it to next year, the paper reported.
Meanwhile, ExpoSure Shows announced that their four annual events along the I-5 corridor in Southern Oregon and Northern California were going to be digital only as holding large-scale gatherings “has become untenable.”
“We will never replace the energy and excitement of face-to-face live shows,” organizer Joe Pate said. “Under the circumstances, however, exhibitors must be able to stay in touch with their outdoor recreation patrons, who may access this free digital flipbook in the comfort of their own home and at their own leisure.”
That flipbook will be available on the days shows are scheduled: February 5-11 in Eugene; February 19-25 in Roseburg; February 26-March 4 in Medford; and March 5-11 in Anderson, California.
Along with a chance to win a fishing trip to either Alaska or La Paz, other great prizes including Northwest Sportsman subscriptions will be available for digital attendees.
“The annual southern Oregon and Northern California Head & Horns Competition will transition to a Head & Horns Photo Contest,” ExpoSure also announced online. “Fans can catch seminars from Jody Smith, Davy Jones, Charles Loos, etc., covering sturgeon and kokanee fishing, turkey hunting and safe bar crossing seminars.”
Virtual is also what the Seattle Boat Show settled on for its “reimagined” event January 28-31.
Organizers say that with 200-plus boat and related businesses planning to participate, they are building a 3D show floor “to navigate through a dynamic display of exhibitor booths and interact and engage with their special promotions and offers!”
It’s slated to launch later this month but an early version is up now.
Expert anglers have also been recording their seminars, a top draw for all shows and in particular the Seattle boat extravaganza, which traditionally has been held in the halls of the Seahawks’ stadium and on Lake Union.
At this writing on January 21, two other organizers are still planning on in-person events – Shuyler Productions‘ February Central Washington and Tri-Cities Sportsmen’s Shows in Yakima and Pasco; and O’Loughlin Trade Shows‘ March Washington, Pacific Northwest and Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Shows in Puyallup, Portland and Redmond, Oregon.
Last month O’Loughlin’s Trey Carskadon told me that moving the Puyallup and Portland shows from their usual late January and early February slots on the calendar to March was “a Herculean effort” that had begun in summer. He also outlined a number of safety protocols expected to be in place.