While the weather had been downright wintery lately, organizers of the first outdoor show of the season know people are looking for reasons to fight off the blues and head outside again.
The 14th Cabin Fever Reliever, which is put on by the Penobscot Fly Fishers, will offer just that, as it returns to the Brewer Auditorium on Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Admission is free.
“Between the snow and the ice and the wind and the freezing temps, this is one of the first events in the ‘show world,’” PFF president and show chairman Mike Hegarty said.
And the low-key show, which will feature more than 50 vendors and exhibitors, will offer attendees the chance to learn about activities and programs that focus on the outdoors.
Education, Hegarty said, has always been a focus of the show.
“Our No. 1 goal is to increase the outdoor education opportunities,” Hegarty said. “We talk about this quite plainly: We want to protect our hunting and fishing heritage, and our outdoor heritage in Maine. The key to that is the next generation, so this event hopefully sparks that idea in some youngster’s head as they’re walking around the different tables.”
Among the exhibits that are particularly popular among young attendees: opportunities to spend some time learning about archery and a supervised air rifle range. In addition, children can learn how to tie a fly that they will get to take home.
Hegarty said that while some products will be sold at the show, many of the exhibitors spend most of their time talking with visitors and sharing information.
“The vast majority of our vendors spend a lot of time, if not all of their time, just talking to people. There’s actually very little selling. There’s a little bit of stuff being bought and sold, but for the most part it’s all about conversation,” Hegarty said. “People tell me at the end of the weekend that they’re exhausted because they just spent their whole day talking.”
Hegarty said that every year, a handful of new exhibitors sign up for the show, but many other vendors return for an event they keep on their calendar year after year. And the show keeps on getting more popular each year.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We had over 1,000 people through the doors the last two years. It seems to be working,” Hegarty said. “I think free admission helps out a lot. You have a couple youngsters in the family and you’re looking for something to do when it spring looks like it’s finally getting a break, and you can come down here and not spend a whole lot of money.”
The BDN will again have a booth at the show, and staffers will welcome visitors to stop by and talk about their favorite outdoor activities.
Our own Aislinn Sarnacki will spend most of Saturday at the show, talking about her popular “1-Minute Hike” features and videos. In addition, folks looking to get their hands on one of her two hiking books — “Maine Hikes off the Beaten Path” and “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” can surely take care of that business there. And Aislinn will be happy to talk about her upcoming book, “Dog-Friendly Hikes in Maine,” if you’re one of those people who loves heading afield with your pooch.
The BDN’s Julie Harris will also spend a lot of time at the show, talking about all things bird dog. Harris writes “It’s a Bird Dog’s Life” for the BDN and has vast training experience. Stop by and pick her brain.
And of course, visitors can sign up for a chance to win a cool fishing adventure in our annual “Win a Drift Boat Trip” contest. Entry is free, and the winner will spend a day fishing the East Outlet of the Kennebec River on Sunday, June 16.