Sunday, February 12, 2017

Looking Beyond the PDX Sportsman's Expo

The Portland Sportsman's Expo was bigger than ever, and it's just impossible to soak everything in and do it all during the 5 day event. The sheer size of the event brings in people from every avenue of the outdoor industry and is a great meeting spot to put faces to names, and shake hands with people I've networked with over the past year. I got to see a lot of new, innovative products up close and personal for the first time, and put a few in my bag to try out and review. I also found some of my favorite products in new styles and colors, as well as some killer deals on dependable gear.

However, looking beyond the PDX expo, I've got a few more on my radar that are a little more personal events that grant show-goers the opportunity to slow down and absorb a little more from each vendor and presenter. A downfall to the larger shows and events is that it's easy to get pulled away and difficult to focus your full attention on any given person or thing at any given time.

The Willamette Sportsman Show is Saturday February 18th from 9am to 6pm and Sunday the 19th from 9am to 4pm at the Linn County Expo Center in Albany, Oregon.

Even though Scott Haugen gave multiple presentations during the Portland Expo, I seemed to find an excuse to miss all of them while attending CCA events, Warmwater Seminars, and simply losing track of time networking with industry professionals and catching up with people I hadn't seen in a while.

The Willamette Sportsman Show is planning on having 6,000+ attendance this year. Admission is $6 (Kids under 12 are FREE!), parking is free, and Best Western is offering discounted show rates as well. Concessions will be available on-site, but there are also convenient dining opportunities near the expo center. The affordability of the event (as well as the location) offer a unique opportunity for those who couldn't make it to the Portland Expo to see some of the seminars and gear they may not have had a chance to see.

Beyond the Willamette Sportsman show, I'm also looking forward to the Saltwater Sportsman's Show in Salem, Oregon on February 25th and 26th, as well as returning to Albany for the Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo on March 10th and 11th. The two events cater towards a more specific audience with less of the distractions of the larger shows. Hope everyone can make it!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

PDX Sportsman's Show ODFW Commission Meet & Greet Becomes a Spectacle of Hecklers

My first day at this year's Portland Sportsman's Show started with realizing I hadn't brought any raingear and was wearing tennis shoes for my 1/2 mile walk to the front door through a torrential downpour. After being soaked, I thought a potentially heated discussion at a meet and greet scheduled for the members of the ODFW Commission might be a good way to warm things up.

Crowds formed outside a conference room where the ODFW Commission Meet and Greet was scheduled to take place (Photo by Grant Scheele of Linn-Benton CCA chapter)
As the organizers realized that a divider between two conference rooms would have to be removed in order to sustain the crowds, they made an announcement that there was a miscommunication about the start time of the event and that it was at 4:30, not the advertised time of 4pm. The room was filled with several conservation groups, including Northwest Steelheaders all wearing green hats with the organization's logo, and CCA members wearing red hats sporting their logo as well. Stickers and signs that said, "No more broken promises" were passed around.

The crowd grew restless, and by the time ODFW Director Curt Melcher made the introduction for former gill net strategist Bruce Buckmaster, hecklers made their thoughts known as shouts from several members of the crowd were followed by a call from Bruce Polley of CCA to show some respect to the commission for taking time to meet with the public. You can view the interaction during the beginning of the event, including a call for Buckmaster's resignation here:

Just before the event, buzz about a letter to Michael Finley, chairman of the ODFW commission from Oregon governor Kate Brown began to circulate. Brown asked the commission to reconsider it's decision about the gill net reforms to align the administration. You can read more about that on the NWS editor's blog:

The full text of Governor Brown's letter to the Chair: