It's been said that Chicago will never see an outdoor show of the likes us older outdoorsmen and women have seen back in the 80's. To me it was totally amazing that young anglers, teens and even those in their 20's and 30's have now been able to see what a real outdoor show is all about. The new Chicagoland Fishing, Travel and Outdoor Expo has shown that it can be done because in late January of this year, they hit a home run with the bases loaded.
Jim DaRosa of the Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show and I were proud to be part of this show. We did a remote broadcast of our regular show on a special night, Thrusday, January 24, which was the show's opening night. On Sunday, Jim and I did a high school fishing seminar there. And to see the exhibitors and show visitors enjoying a show like they did years ago was just fantastic.
Exhibitors, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts alike gave a big “thumbs up” to the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo, produced by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). Held January 24-27, 2013, at the Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill., the show was attended by thousands of the area’s anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts looking for a glimmer of spring and a chance to see the latest in fishing gear, apparel and travel opportunities.
“The new Chicagoland show provided our member companies an opportunity to introduce their products to anglers and all sportsmen and women who don’t often have an opportunity see such a wide array of fishing gear and other amenities,” said ASA President and CEO Mike Nussman. “As I walked the show floor, I overheard more than one person make a comment about how attending the show felt like being a ‘kid in a candy store.’”
The all-fishing show also featured a wide-array of events and seminars for every member of the family taught by regional angling experts and top sportsmen and women. Bassmaster Classic superstars Kevin VanDam and Mike “Ike” Iaconelli shared their fishing tips and tricks-of-the trade to standing room only crowds. Family Fun Day was an opportunity for every member of the family to try his or her hand at everything that fishing and the outdoors has to offer. Next year, the show is being held January 23 - 26 at the Schaumburg Convention Center.
“Our goal was to produce a show that anglers and sportsmen and women in the Chicago area would be eager to attend year after year and, from the feedback we’ve received, I believe we accomplished that,” said Show Director Paul Fuller. “This is my 36th year in sport show management and I’d never been more excited about a new show.”
I have to agree with Fuller that they met their goal... but more likely exceeded their expectations.
Fuller further said, “What was really gratifying was seeing the support from manufacturers and other ASA members who pulled out all the stops to ensure show attendees saw the best they had to offer in gear, tackle and accessories. Especially for the the young people that attended the show, this was a very exciting experience. I heard one young man say after getting Mike Iaconelli’s autograph, that he might just faint. How could you not smile after hearing that?”
“It’s always gratifying to see the excitement and anticipation that anglers have for our sport,” said Rapala Executive Vice President Gregg Wollner, ASA’s Board of Directors chairman. “The Chicagoland show highlighted everything that is great about fishing, including families spending time together and enthusiastically preparing for the upcoming season. Sport shows allow people to dream about what they will do once spring and summer arrive and more than a few dreams were fulfilled in Chicago.”
Kirk Immens, president, Sportco Marketing, Inc., headquartered in the Chicago area, whose company represents Shimano American Corporation, had this to say: “Wow! Clearly anglers living in the area were just waiting for the return of a great fishing show because they came out in droves. The Shimano, Loomis, PowerPro and Jackall booths were busy the entire four days. I’ve been in this business for many years and I always looked forward to show season. The Chicagoland show had the level of excitement and energy that I remember from years past and our entire team is looking forward to next year.”
Randy Lemcke, senior vice president, Plano Molding Company, Plano, Ill., remarked, “I was thrilled to see the tremendous response to an honest-to-goodness fishing show. Every exhibitor I spoke to was very happy with the traffic and knowledge and enthusiasm of the show’s attendees. From a manufacturer’s point of view and as a member of ASA, we are very grateful for the support from all sectors of the industry. We’re looking forward to bigger and better next year.”
“This was the best fishing show in the Chicago area in at least ten years! The right location, the biggest names in tackle manufacturing, high-profile pro anglers speaking to standing room only crowds, friendly and supportive show and convention center staff - even free parking – created a win-win for everyone,” said Ken Hammond, CEO, The Hammond Group, Inverness, Ill., and chairman of ASA’s Membership Committee. “It’s obvious that this market can, and will, gladly support a consumer fishing show that delivers on the promised experience… and this one did.”
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice, speaking out on behalf of sportfishing and boating industries, state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy groups and outdoor journalists when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring social, economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America's 60 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation's waterways through KeepAmericaFishing™, our angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate over $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.