It’s been a long, cold winter. Snowstorms arrived on a nearly weekly basis, piling up the white stuff and forcing many of us to bundle up, head outside and shovel ourselves out (again). It’s time for a change. It’s time to start thinking of warmer weather, twittering birds, babbling brooks and spending time outdoors for fun, not torture.
And beginning this weekend, one of the most certain harbingers of spring is upon us: The region’s major outdoor expositions kick off with the venerable Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show.
In the coming weeks, sporting expos will also be held in Augusta, Winslow and Presque Isle. Even the state’s outdoor retailers will get involved, as L..L. Bean in Freeport, Cabela’s in Scarborough and the Kittery Trading Post have all scheduled theme weekends in the coming weeks.
If you’re among those who view these annual shows as the unofficial end of rough sledding, here’s a schedule that will keep you hopping over the coming weeks:
- For those of us in the Penobscot River valley (and beyond), when you say “Sportsmen’s Show,” you’re talking about the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show, which will be held for the 73rd time starting on Friday. The Penobscot Valley Conservation Association organizes the monstrous event, which takes over the field house, Memorial Gym and Stanley Wallace Pool at the University of Maine in Orono.
This year’s show hours: 5-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday. Organizers have lined up more than 150 exhibitors and speakers, and anyone with an interest in the outdoors will find something of interest. Archery and air rifle ranges for kids have been a big hit over the past few years, and versatile hunting dog demonstrations are always worth attending.
If you fish for bass, hunt for deer or moose, are interested in trapping or taxidermy, or just want to find a new boat, there will be vendors on hand to steer you in the right direction.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our BDN booth, where we’ll be signing people up for a chance to spend a fantastic day on the water with Dan Legere of the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville. Legere has been the sponsor of our “Win a Drift Boat Trip” contest since its inception in 2003.
In this, the ninth annual edition of the contest, Legere will again provide a guided day of fishing on the East Outlet of the Kennebec River. Our trip is set for June 19 — peak season in those parts — and the rules of our contest are simple: Sign up for free. Bring a positive attitude. And be willing to fish with me. I tag along to fish a little, talk a lot, and take notes for a future column.
We’ve already published the entry blank in the BDN several times and as of Wednesday, 50 mailed-in entries had arrived here at 491 Main Street. If you want to avoid buying stamps, you can stop by our booth and sign up there.
In addition, Outdoor editor Jeff Strout and I will be on hand to answer questions about our outdoor offerings, talk about improvements to our Outdoor website, and learn what you want to read more about.
In addition, we’ll unveil a new, improved version of our outdoor slide show, which we debuted at February’s Cabin Fever Reliever in Brewer. We’ve added more stunning staff-generated photos to the show and have more than 200 images that capture the essence of the Maine outdoors. Photos from the 1950s all the way up to 2011 are featured, and visitors at the Brewer show often spent 10 minutes or more at our booth, watching the entire presentation.
We expect more of the same in Orono and are eager to share those photos with visitors. We’ve also set up a gallery at bangordailynews.com (go to “Archive” and “photo archive”) so that people can browse the images at home and purchase photos if they wish.
- The seventh annual Pine Tree State Sportsman Show is set for March 18-20. This year the show will move from Wilton to Winslow and will be staged at Sukee Arena and Events Center. Show hours: noon to 7 p.m. March 18, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 19 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 20.
- The Presque Isle Fish and Game Club’s annual Sportsman’s Show will be held on March 26 and 27 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Gentile Building. Show hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 26 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 27.
- The 31st annual State of Maine Sportsman’s Show will be held at the Augusta Civic Center on April 1-3. Show hours: 1-7 p.m. April 1, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 2 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 3.
- In Freeport, L.L. Bean will hold its annual Spring Fishing Weekend on March 18-20. The event will feature a film festival and celebrity anglers including Lefty Kreh, Dave Whitlock and Tim Rajeff.
- Down in southern Maine, the Kittery Trading Post will pull out the stops for its Fishing Fest and Spring Turkey Event on March 24-27.
- In Scarborough, Cabela’s will hold a pair of special weekends focusing on spring fishing, turkey gear, boat prep and camping gear. Those feature programs will run March 19-20 and March 26-27.