The Eastern Maine Sportsman’s Show is fortunate to be the state’s first big outdoor exposition each year … and sometimes cursed by that same mid-March weekend date.
It’s Maine, after all.
Sometimes it rains.
Sometimes it snows.
And sometimes, it seems to rain and snow at the same time.
Any of those eventualities (all possible during March in Maine) can severely impact attendance at the show run by the Penobscot County Conservation Association.
At this year’s show — the 71st edition — on Saturday afternoon, with the sun shining and a heavy crowd milling through the aisles of the University of Maine field house, show organizer Woody Higgins was smiling broadly.
“Beautiful weather, springtime is coming. People want to come out and go to the show,” said Higgins, who said Friday and Saturday attendance appeared to be above average, thanks in large part to the weather.
Nearby, George Smith, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, voiced an opinion shared by many show attendees.
“I think we wait all winter for the sportsman’s shows to bust out of the cabins or the ice shanties and get up here,” Smith said. “You see the same people year after year. It’s just a blast. I couldn’t wait for the first show, and now we have shows every weekend, someplace.
Indeed we do. In some cases, more than one per weekend.
Here then, is a list of the outdoor-related expos you can sample over the coming weeks:
• If you love being on the water and want to dream a bit, you can head to the Bangor Auditorium this weekend for the Bangor Boating and Marine Expo, which will run from Friday through Sunday.
The show runs from 2-8 p.m. on Friday, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday.
• The 5th annual Pine Tree State Sportsman’s Show is on tap Friday through Sunday at the expansive Nichols Expo Center in Wilton.
Organizer Vic Morin has a great show on tap, with lots of high-profile lecturers and exhibits.
Deer hunters may want to stop by to hear the famous Benoit brothers talk about their exploits, while kids will be sure to find plenty to keep them occupied.
• Also on tap this weekend is L.L. Bean’s annual Spring Fishing Expo at the company’s Freeport store.
L.L. Bean always brings in some top-level talent, and this year is no exception, as plenty of famous anglers will take part in the “Legends of Fishing” program.
Those anglers, including Flip Pallot, Stu Apte, Joan Wulff, Mark Sosin and Tim Rajeff, will meet the public and sign autographs between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. both days.
• Attention will turn to Aroostook County on March 28-29 as the Presque Isle Fish & Game Club will host its annual sportsman’s show at the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Gentile Building.
A highlight of the show is the annual moose-calling contest, which will be held on March 28 at 4 p.m.
• The four-weekend frenzy peaks on April 3-5 with the 29th annual State of Maine Sportsman’s Show at the Augusta Civic Center.
The show combines the best of southern Maine with plenty of northern Maine vendors, along with others from far-flung venues in Canada and across the U.S.
• If you’re looking for something a bit more local that weekend, you may find it at the Big Pine Gun Club’s gun and knife show on April 4-5.
The show will be held at the Millennium Convention Center in Palmyra.
Salt-water tying class scheduled
The Penobscot Fly Fishers are developing a reputation for offering learning opportunities with some of the region’s best fly tiers, and they’ll continue that trend on Sunday, March 29.
The club will offer a one-day saltwater tying class with New Hampshire’s Joe Calcavecchia.
The class will cover clousers, deceivers, mackerel flies, striper dragons and squid flies.
The course will be held at the Brewer Auditorium and costs $35. That fee covers the cost of materials, epoxy and any special thread. Attendees are asked to bring their vise, tools, favorite 6/0 thread (black and white) and a light if needed.
For more information or to register, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 834-5634.