Friday, March 25, 2016

The evolution of the Sportsmen Shows in NB

I have been asked a few times recently if I will be present at the New Brunswick Sportsmen's Show again this year. Last year I held a booth to promote the sport of kayak fishing, the kayak fishing derbies and the sport of sturgeon fishing. As you know, these sports are extremely popular, especially here in the Saint John region. Unfortunately I opted not to be there with a booth this year as the costs of a hotel, transportation, food...etc for three days and such was more than I could justify doing out of pocket. Plus, I'd have to burn a vacation day!

My booth at the 2015 Show
I did offer to do a seminar on either kayak fishing and/or sturgeon fishing, and was told a few times they would get back to me on scheduling, indicating at the time a likelihood that they would have me as a presenter. Unfortunately, I never did hear back from the organizers, and only discovered that I would not be presenting when the schedule was eventually released. There goes a wonderful opportunity to promote these two great sports to a large and diverse audience! Instead of having myself or someone else speak to these topics, a couple of very qualified Bass Pro pro-staffers are going to be making their presentations multiple times during the weekend. Bass Pro has come in as the big sponsor of the event, with the seminar stage named after them...etc. so it isn't a surprise that Bass Pro representative are being allotted considerable presentation time.

I can't fault Bass Pro for wanting to dominate an event like this, if I were them I would want to have my brand splashed over everything too! However is this good for the show? I hear that many of the locally owned vendors who helped make the show what it is are either pulling out or scaling down because of the presence of the big box stores. In other regions, these big stores are not permitted at their sportsman shows. Take Toronto for instance, look though the exhibitor list here and notice the number of small business, and the lack of the big names.

(Edit by request March 27) Another event on our province will take place in September when the Sussex Fish and Game Association is gong to be resurrecting on a their  Atlantic Hunting and Fishing Expo where they will initially look to the smaller outfitters and businesses who have been involved with them in the past.   They will also look to grow their event by inviting new vendors, groups and organizations pertaining to hunting, fishing and the outdoors.  

As consumers and the target audience for these shows, I encourage you to attend them with an open mind, and then see what you think. Whether you like or do not like way they are run, let the organizers know! Your feedback will make all the difference in years to come!

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