After a winter without in-person sportsmen’s and boat shows in Western Washington, two big extravaganzas are back and begin this week.
The Washington Sportsmen’s Show runs February 2-6 at the fairgrounds in Puyallup, while the Seattle Boat Show drops anchor February 4-12 inside the Seahawks’ stadium and a marina along Elliott Bay. Those are new dates for both, as in the past they kicked off in late January.
With their mix of shiny new boats, headliners like Randy Newberg, myriad how-to seminars, video showings, hundreds and hundreds of exhibitors, big game antler displays, cooking competitions and delicious food, fishing and hunting organizations to join, and much, much more, the return of the shows helps fill a place in the Pugetropolis fishing and hunting world calendar that was empty last winter due to the pandemic.
True, there was a digital version of the boat show, but holding in-person events in 2021 proved unviable given Washington’s mandate that limited “indoor entertainment” to a maximum of 200 attendees at any given moment. Now, under the state’s “Large Event Requirements,” which went into effect last November, indoor events with more than 1,000 people are a go again, with the caveat that attendees must confirm proof of vaccination against Covid or show a negative test from the past 72 hours.
Free testing will be available at the Puyallup show for those with tickets, while rapid tests can be administered at the west entrance to the boat show for $69. Masks are required at both.
O’Loughlin Trade Shows actually piloted the return of the events last March with masked and socially distanced shows in Portland and Redmond, Oregon, and for the Washington Sportsmen’s Show, the company’s Trey Carskadon said “dozens of exciting new features” will be on tap, with public lands hunter/advocate Randy Newberg on site Thursday through Sunday and hosting questions and answer sessions.
Friday will also feature a first-ever Elk Day, a special focus on the iconic – not to mention tasty – big game critter.
“All Friday’s hunting seminars will be on elk with how-to get started by Bryanna Zimmerman who’s relatively new to elk hunting but has bagged some public lands beasts; elk hunting in Washington with Kyle Garrison; Randy Newberg’s public lands Q&A; bow hunting elk in the heat by Richy Harrod; and some sage advice for packing and going out prepared presented by survival expert Brett Stoffel,” a press release states.
Other scheduled seminars include everything from Puget Sound coho to trophy walleye tactics, Eastern Washington summer Chinook to fishing off the beach, twitching to kayak fishing, while on the hunting side there will be turkey calling, hunting dog, upland bird and blacktail deer hunting workshops, among other topics.
There will also be three daily seminars at the Garmin Tech Center to help you get the most out of your electronics.
On Friday and Saturday, respectively, the guys from Addicted Fishing and Leif Steffny of NW Fishing Secrets will be holding limited-seating events in which they premiere or show recent videos; $14.99 tickets are required for the former.
Along with the Head and Horns Competition, where hunters can get their deer, elk, moose and other critters officially scored for $10 ($30 to enter the contest), the Wall of Kings display of trophy big game mounts is “all-new.”
And for the kids there’s duck decoy painting.
Tickets for adults are $15 and it’s $5 for kids age 6 to 16. Here’s a link to a coupon for $2 off adult entry.
Show hours are noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
For the Seattle Boat Show, 2022 not only marks its 75th anniversary – the first was held in 1947, when just over a dozen dealers gathered on Lake Union – but a new seminar format. Presentations by some of the top names in Northwest fishing, crabbing, squidding and boating will be held both live and be available for show attendees later on demand for three months.
That change marks how organizers at the Northwest Marine Trade Association “blended the original format with learnings from last year,” when the show was held digitally, according to a recent feature on Northwest Yachting’s blog.
This year’s seminar lineup also features new speaker Jamie Peth of Anglers Unlimited, who will be talking San Juan Islands lingcod, shrimping and downrigger fishing, plus coastal clamming.
Overall, there are expected to be nearly 300 exhibitors and 800-plus boats at Lumen Field Events Center and Bell Harbor Marina. A free shuttle will be making the trip between the two downtown Seattle sites.
Tickets are $18 for adults, while kids 17 and under are free.
The $99 Seminar Package includes nine days worth of show admission, a $40 cruising guide, Boat US basic membership and three-month access to the seminar website for viewing the workshops later and on demand.
Lumen Field hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.. to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
It’s not all back to business as usual on the show front, however. Puyallup’s floorplan is smaller than past years, and several shows have been cancelled for this year and won’t be back until 2023.
Those include the Central Washington Sportsmen Show in Yakima; Northwest Fly Tyer & Fly Fishing Expo in Albany; and Wenatchee Valley Sportsmen Show. As for the Saltwater Sportsmen’s Show, held in Salem, organizers reported last September that they could no longer put it on but were looking for another group to do so.
This year’s schedule is also somewhat shaken up from prepandemic days as the marquee Puyallup, Seattle and Portland shows shifted to prime February dates. Bill O’Loughlin said the move did “our shows a lot of good for 2022 and beyond,” not only keeping them clear of the AFC and NFC championship games but the Super Bowl as well, plus it overlaps “when peak purchasing and attendance occurs.”