The show had a slow start. I was not there Wed or Thurs but give you this with info from friends who had a couple booths there.
I spend the day at their booths on Fri and Sat. Friday was not a banner crowd but a good one. Saturday was very good up to about 6 PM.
I would guess the show is, in square footage, about 1/3 the size. Not a bad thing. The lay out was good and there was plenty of things to see and do. You could spend a good part of the day there yourself or with your family.
Friday night they had a band in the lobby where you buy your tickets. Personally I think it was a waste of money.
I don't have a solid read on the seminars, but saw bits of some on the small stage w/ local anglers. They did fine.
I stuck my head in on the Winkelman seminar on Friday night. Sad to say he had at best 75 to 100 people in there. Looked in at a Mike Iaconelli seminar at mid day on Saturday, it was full, I'm guessing 350 - 400 people. All seats taken and standing all along the back. It may have been less for his 7PM seminar as the show attendance was pretty lean at that time.
Good things.... Reptile demo. Huge crowds.. HUGE. Archery range, loaded with people on Saturday almost all day.
Ken Ingo from Poorman's Guide Service did well with the turkey seminars. The demos for the family/kids on Saturday were okay.
Soft air gun range was full all the time. Hawg trough demos had good attendance on the weekend.
Deer butchering demo, good crowds. I didn't get to taste any but the samples of venison were very good I was told.
Family oriented events in the back area did okay on Saturday as I observed.
Iaconelli's seminar for the IHSA kids on Sunday is a great idea.
There was a decent number of resorts and outfitters, and a fair amount of tackle sales. Next to no manufacturers. As I recall Plano, Sebile are the only two that stickout in my mind.
Final good thing, lots of junk dealers gone. Sorry, no shammies, no pots and pans or oil paintings. Anderson windows was there. Maybe you need to replace the windows in your cabin up north.
Bad things... lets call em things not necessary at this show.
The band in the lobby. They're expensive. It drew no big crowd as I saw.
The announcing of seminars blasted out seminar speakers in the hall and speakers at demos with reptiles or fish tank. A schedule of seminars and demos, on the hour would have been better. Tell them all finish up at ten minutes to the hour then let the announcer talk about whats coming up in that ten minute dead time. It was irritating to many to have the announcer yell out up coming seminars when people are trying to hear what the speakers and demonstrators were saying.
More signage is needed for demos and seminars.
Late hour seminars. Seminars in the eleventh hour each day I saw, and heard had poor attendance. Money could have been saved by cutting back a few.
There were several tackle dealers, but very few specialized tackle items. It wasn't bad, but I'd bet more will come next year.
All in all, as long as you're willing to sit in on seminars, see demonstrations and participate in some of the activities, you would really enjoy this show. If all you did is go from booth to booth then leave, you were disappointed. There really was enough to entertain you and the family for quite a while.
The show took out a lot of the dead space by condencing into one hall. It had plenty to see and do. At $10 to get in and $13 to park, you could have saved by going in a group. You would have saved on the parking and not feel that bite.
I heard that the show will be back next year, bigger and better. In meeting the show manager a couple times, I truely feel that he is dedicated to bring this show back to what we remember 10 years ago. This year, he had to prove himself and that the show can survive. He had a huge hurdle to jump. I think he landed on the other side... on both feet.
Good Job Jim!