Sportsman

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
17 years ago

   PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Get ready, aim your vehicles toward the University of Maine at Presque Isle and get fired up over this year’s Sportsman’s Show April 7 and 8 at Gentile Hall, sponsored by the Presque Isle Fish & Game Club – a show organizers say is bigger and better than any they’ve had before.

“This marks our 10th year and we believe this is by far our best show lineup,” said Nick Archer, co-chair of the event.
This year’s show is designed with kids and families in mind, with plenty of exhibits for ‘children’ of all ages, be they 5 or 75.
“We wanted to focus on kids bringing their parents. We’ve got Art Howell bringing his animals up from Amity, food on site provided for sale by Riverside Restaurant, lots of demonstrations and giveaways,” said Charlie Beck, co-chair of the event.
Howell will be bringing Baxter, the 550 pound black bear; a bald eagle named Erica; Dolly the cougar; and more interesting creatures.
Children 10 and under will be eligible to receive a gift from the Easter Bunny.
“Since the show takes place Easter weekend, we’ll have Caster the Easter Bunny on hand giving out gifts to the kids. Marty the Moose will also be on hand for the children,” said Archer.
A live brook trout display – a popular attraction at last year’s show – will be set up again for visitors to get a closer look and anglers to drool as they dream of fishing expeditions yet to come.
Approximately 80 exhibitors have registered for this year’s show.
The show has become so popular, organizers actually had to turn down some interested vendors.
“We had a waiting list to get in this year. We never had that before. We had to do some turnover to keep it fresh,” said Archer. “This is probably the best-looking floor setup since we started. We’re really excited.”
One of the most interesting exhibits this year, according to Beck, is called the Sno-Bear.
“It’s a unique vehicle, larger than a snowmobile, that’s entirely enclosed, with seats and a hole in the floor for ice fishing,” said Beck.
“It’s entirely self-contained and can drive on ice, with a built-in hole to ice fish from,” added Archer.
Information on the Sno-Bear can be obtained at www.snow-bear.com.
Exhibits at this year’s show included everything from lodges, game, wardens, ATV organizations and the Maine Winter Sports Center, to sporting equipment retailers, trappers, trading posts, the DEP and a variety of crafters.
“We’ll also have canoe and kayak demonstrations and UMPI will let folks climb their rock wall for a small fee,” said Archer. “For the adventurous type, we have the moose-calling contest at Wieden on Saturday. That begins at 4 p.m., with $500 in cash prizes. Smith & Wesson will also have an exhibit of collectible guns.”
Special sponsors for this year’s event include: TD Banknorth, Katahdin Trust Company, McCain’s Limited, Northeastland Hotel, Wright-Pierce Engineers and Plum Creek.
Admission is $3, with children 10 and under admitted free. The event takes place on April 7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on April 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go toward a scholarship fund.
“The focus of the show is to raise money for scholarships to send kids to the Maine Conservation School at Bryant Pond. We encourage parents to approach us at the show to see if their children qualify,” said Archer.
Nearly 1,000 people took part in the first show. Organizers say that number has grown over the years and they expect around 8,000 participants for the April event.
This year’s show is being geared toward kids, said Archer, noting the funds raised will benefit children as well.
“We think we’ll have a great turnout but especially want to see kids in attendance. Sporting events and activities can be a family affair. This gives folks an opportunity to see what Maine has to offer.”
Door prizes will be given away and information on upcoming events will be available during the show.
“The Fish & Game Club will have information on the fishing derby coming up June 2 at Mantle Lake. Anyone wanting to learn more can find out more that weekend,” said Beck.