Visitors to the annual Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show make the trek to Orono for a variety of reasons.
Some want to learn more about hunting or fishing or trapping. For others, the show is nearly a reunion where they can catch up with scores of like-minded exhibitors and attendees.
For others still, the show is simply an excuse to get out of the house, shake off the effects of a long winter, and celebrate the impending arrival of spring.
Whatever your reason for attending, one thing is certain: This weekend, for the 72nd time, it’s show time for the annual outdoor expo, which is staged by the Penobscot County Conservation Association and will be held in the Memorial Gymnasium, field house and pool of the University of Maine.
Show hours: 5-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 for those age 12 and older, $1 for those between ages 6 and 11, and free for kids under 6.
Woody Higgins, one of the PCCA’s show chairmen, said the event is the culmination of months of work.
“We send out the first contracts in June now, and offer the early bird discount for people,” Higgins said. “I think we were full by the middle, latter part of January.”
Higgins said the show would offer many of the tried-and-true exhibits, but several new vendors are also on board. Among those are several gubernatorial candidates looking to connect with the sporting public and a representative of the U.S. Census Bureau.
“[The Census Bureau] is trying to recruit 200-and-some-odd four-wheelers to help with the census,” Higgins explained. “Every camp on every lake, somebody has to go and determine who’s there.”
There is one minor complication for show-goers this year. The University of Maine men’s hockey team is hosting an opening-round Hockey East tournament series, and parking near the field house will be at a premium on Friday and Saturday nights.
Higgins said university officials and the PCCA have teamed up to alleviate potential parking problems by providing a shuttle for hockey fans and show attendees.
“There is a shuttle bus that will be running all three days, from the performing arts center to the steam plant parking lot,” Higgins said. “When there’s hockey it will stop at the front of Alfond Arena and then will stop at the front of the field house.”
As has become our tradition, the Bangor Daily News will have a booth at this year’s show. And as has become a tradition, we’ll be giving away another drift boat trip with guide Dan Legere on the East Outlet of the Kennebec River.
The trip will take place on Father’s Day, June 20. A lucky angler will join Legere (and me) for a daylong drift through some top-notch, fly-fishing water.
Legere takes care of the heavy lifting, cooks lunch and conducts what amounts to an on-water fly-fishing clinic, while the trip winner and I have the time of our lives.
The best part about the trip giveaway: Entry is free.
We don’t sell raffle tickets. We don’t make you buy a subscription (although, if you do, we’d be happy to help you out in that regard). You enter the contest for free.
I hope you stop by our booth to chat for a bit, and take the time to enter our contest. I’ll be at the show for most of the weekend, and as always, I’m eager to hear your favorite hunting and fishing stories.
Other Maine sporting shows scheduled for the next several weeks:
ä The 6th Pine Tree State Sportsman Show is March 19-21 at the Nichols Expo Center in Wilton. Hours of operation: Friday noon until 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, go to www.pinetreestatesportsmanshow.com
ä The 12th annual Presque Isle Fish and Game Club Sportsman’s Show will be held March 27-28 at the University of Maine-Presque Isle’s Gentile Building. Hours of operation: Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Go to www.pifg.org for information.
ä The 29th State of Maine Sportsman’s Show will be held April 2-4 at the Augusta Civic Center. Hours of operation: Friday, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go to: www.mainesportsmanshow.com.
Hoehlein teaching bass classes
Open-water fishing may be a few weeks away for most of us, but a local angler is offering the chance to learn some skills you’ll be able to utilize for years to come.
Ken Hoehlein, a bass fisherman with 35 years of experience, is a regular on the state’s tournament bass circuit, and he’ll teach a pair of bass-fishing classes through local adult education programs in the coming weeks.
At Bangor Adult Education, Hoehlein will hold classes on Thursdays from March 18 through May 6. Classes meet from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Students can register by calling 992-5523.
In Ellsworth, Hoehlein’s classes will run for seven straight Tuesdays beginning March 16. That class meets at 6:30 p.m. Call 667-6499 for information.
Hoehlein knows his stuff but also invites other experts, including state fisheries biologists, to share their knowledge.
At the least, students will emerge with new skills that will make their fishing more fun. And who knows? Maybe Hoehlein will inspire you to join a local bass club and begin enjoying some good-natured competition.
If you’re interested in talking to Hoehlein directly about his classes, you can catch up with him at the Eastern Maine Sportsman’s Show in Orono this weekend, where he’ll be conducting a bass seminar.