It’s old home weekend for many of the state’s outdoors enthusiasts as they gather beginning today for the 34th annual Maine Sportsman’s Show at the Augusta Civic Center.
Show co-manager Kelly Allen expects about 10,000 people this weekend to view the hundreds of exhibits in the main auditorium and attend the 75 seminars. There’s also a fishing pond, a Cub’s Den and Sparky the Clown. Kids and adults can test their skills at an outdoor casting pond.
“It’s a show the family can come to,” Allen said. “Everybody’s upbeat, happy. It’s a real positive atmosphere.”
Exhibits in the main auditorium include sporting camps and lodges, sportsman’s clubs, state agencies, fishing charters, hunting and fishing equipment, boats, ATVs and much more. Many of them have rented space since the show’s inception.
“They come because they know they’re going to see the same people every year,” Allen said.
Artists from around New England will enter photos, paintings and carvings in the show’s art contest and spectators can vote for the “Sportsman’s Choice” in each category.
Among the more popular seminars is the one sponsored by the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA), which will demonstrate what hunters should expect from their dogs. And three of the state’s best trophy deer hunters — Joe Saltalamachia, Hal Blood and Lee Shanz — will be on hand to share hunting tactics and advice on deer hunting in Maine.
New to the show this year are a special legislative/political room and a Miss Maine Sportsman contest. Candidates for governor, Congress and the Maine House and Senate will be on hand throughout the weekend and will answer questions and share information about this election year. A referendum in November that could end using man-made bait and dogs to hunt bear is one of the more controversial items up for vote. Save Maine’s Bear Hunt and Management Program representatives will also be on hand to answer questions.
Attendees will also have a chance to vote for Miss Maine Sportsman throughout the show. The winner will received a deer antler crown when she’s announced at noon Sunday.
“This is no beauty contest,” Allen said. “It’s totally based on what they’ve done in the outdoors.”
In addition to Maine Sportsman’s Magazine and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), L.L. Bean is one of the show’s major sponsors. It’s donated a new kayak which will be raffled and its Bootmobile will also be on display. Bean’s also has a target range which youngsters can experience outside the Civic Center.
The show runs Friday from 1 -7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for kids age 5-12, and military and seniors 65 and over. Children under 5 get in free.