Archive for February, 2019

At Last! Fantasy Season!

Written by Jim Huckabay on February 13, 2019. Posted in Uncategorized

It was one of those way-off-Reecer Creek meetings of the Reecer Creek Rod, Gun, Working Dog & Outdoor Think Tank Benevolent Association. A couple displaced homeys and I were wandering the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show at the Portland Expo. At one point, the conversation drifted to the seasons around which our lives have long unfolded. In short order, we identified the seasons of fishing, gardening, crabbing, summer camping, hiking, mushrooms, huckleberries, harvest and hunting, preparing and preserving, and the holidays. “And let’s not forget this one,” I suggested, “the time of these outdoor and sportsmen’s shows – our Fantasy Season!”

As you are quite aware, I’ve been following these shows for decades. I know that somewhere in each show is the answer to just about any outdoor fantasy I ever had – somewhere down one or another aisle is something to make my life complete. You gotta love this season and the outdoor shows where we celebrate it.

How owners and managers keep the shows evolving and interesting – thus keeping us coming back – has long intrigued me. Of course, I want to know what’s new and exciting in our outdoor avocations, and how we are recruiting future generations, but I am always interested in asking exhibitors about which of the many dozens of shows across the country they follow – or don’t – and why.

Among the exhibitors at the Puyallup and Portlland shows over the last few weeks, four western shows (among several across the country) were consistently on “We’re probably not going back…” lists. Those were in Denver, Sacramento, Salt Lake, and Phoenix. Reasons given for slumping interest in those shows range from poor maintenance and management, unbalanced mixes of booth offerings, and falling attendance. In a couple eastern U.S. shows many spaces were empty this year, and half or more of the booths were from Africa. The number of sold booths at a couple shows has fallen so far that reps from only-weeks-away shows were on the floor of the Portland Expo last week trying to get exhibitors to shift their remaining schedules around. A balance of outfitters, retailers, manufacturers, education and entertainment is critical for a successful show for both exhibitors and attendees

Admittedly, the two shows I’ve recently poked around have been O’Laughlin productions. Still, I have yet to hear a grumble from an exhibitor, and I consistently hear their shows – and those smaller regional shows in Central Washington and rural Oregon – described as well-managed, well-planned, well promoted and “always fresh, with a smart diversity of exhibitors.” So, how is it that we here in Washington live amidst several of the freshest and best “sportsman” shows in the country?

I asked Trey Carskadon, PR Director and mouthpiece for the O’Laughlin Trade Shows, for the secret. He just smiled and started rattling off his “here’s what works” list.

“It starts with our O’Laughlin show staff – we are all lifelong outdoor nuts, living our fishing and hunting dreams and carefully tracking attendees and their interests. We try new things and keep improving them – like our live kokanee tank. We start marketing and brainstorming in April, reviewing possible new speakers and approaches discovered by staff or attendees – like these youthful speakers who just blew people away this year. We’re finding women leaders to help us support the growing desire for women to take their places outdoors. We work on new sponsorships conttantly – new things and ideas. Certain things are in all our shows, of course, but we take several unique approaches to each community.

”At Puyallup this year, for example, we moved access around to more easily open up parts of the show. Our new kayak fishing pavilion was very popular in the area, and our big outdoor cooking competition drew popular pros from across North America – it went viral!

“This Portland show features a big new walleye tank, with our “Walleye Alley” and is stirring even more local excitement than we expected. We cranked up our Backcountry Hunting Area of preparation and displays, with the “Born and Raised Outdoors” section. Here, at this Portland venue, we really feature Leupold Optics and Gerber Knives – we have them in other shows, of course, but each has a unique mix of retailers and manufacturers.

“All these things are at the heart of successful long-term relationships among outdoor exhibitors, speakers, and our communities. We all love this outdoor expo business and we work to have it here for those who come after us!”

I can say that, so far this year, I have seen more youngsters and more groups of young women wandering the shows than in years past. I’m feeling ever more optimistic about our outdoor future.

The Shuylers keep our Central Washington Sportsmen Show in Yakima fresh and fun, too. It kicks off Friday afternoon and runs through Sunday. See you at the SunDome.

It’s Fantasy Season.

Your Free Outdoor Photo Contest

Written by Jim Huckabay on February 6, 2019. Posted in Uncategorized

You, or a close friend or family member, got a camera for Christmas.

In keeping with my dual responsibilities as Contest Encouragement Chair for the Reecer Creek Rod, Gun, Working Dog & Outdoor Think Tank Benevolent Association and as Prize Procurement Officer of the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club (KCFSC), I have a suggestion – a suggestion for anyone within email of Central Washington.

Perhaps the biggest photo contest held in our region is almost over, but you can still play.  The contest, in association with Shuyler’s Central Washington Sportsmen Show in Yakima, is co-sponsored by the 100-year-old Kittitas County Field and Stream Club, which provides ribbons and prizes. This year’s prizes include ribbons for all classes, winners’ photos printed on stretched canvas and gift cards. You have until Midnight Saturday to enter your digital wildlife and wild places photos and help others to enter theirs.

Prizes will be awarded to winners in adult and kid categories. The two age groups are kids (16 and under) and adults (17 and older). This is a great opportunity to get folks of all ages psyched about, and started on, outdoor photography.

Deadline for entry of your digital photo (.jpeg format) is February 6 – you have clear through Saturday. (Did I mention that it is free?) All photos will be continuously displayed during the Central Washington Sportsmen Show, in the SunDome, February 15, 16 and 17. Prizes will be awarded around Noon on Sunday, the 17th.

You have plenty of time to splash through the photos you are already thinking about entering, with time left over to get out into the valley and take photos of the wildlife all around us. The actual entering of your digital photos will take only a minute or so.

I am, herewith, providing a general overview of the contest, but for official instructions and rules, go to and click on “Photo Contest.” Your .jpeg photos must be uploaded by midnight 9 February.

The entries must be photographs, not visual or graphic art manipulations. You must be the original photographer, and hold copyright to all photos submitted. Photographs of living fish and/or wildlife may include one or more people, and camp site scene photos are invited.  Photographers may not excessively alter or change photographs with photo editing software. No print/film submissions will be accepted, and, of course, no profane language, violence, nudity, or personal attacks on people or organizations is allowed. You agree to indemnify Shuyler Productions for a mess arising from any violation of trademark, copyright or whatever in your photo. Shuyler gets to use your photo (with proper credit) as it sees fit, although you retain full ownership and copyrights. There are a few more details, but you’ll see them when you enter your photo. It is easy and straightforward.

Prizes and ribbons will be awarded on the basis of the judges’ decisions, and all decisions of the judges and/or the Photo Committee are final. Awards will be in two age groups, adult (seventeen and older) and youth (sixteen and younger). First and second place (and honorable mention) ribbons will be awarded for adult and youth photos and one “best of show” award will be given. Each winner will also receive a stretched canvas print (8” by 10”), suitable for framing, of his or her winning photo. Other prizes include appropriate gift cards.

All photos entered and accepted into the contest and exhibit will be displayed on a large flat screen TV during this week’s 2019 Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show (early entries only, obviously) and at the Central Washington Sportsmen Show in a week and a half. The entry deadline is 9 February and prizes will be awarded during the show in the SunDome.

It’s free and fun and easy and you can enter from anyplace. And you still have days yet. Go to and click on the photo contest, and click on the link for all details. To enter your photos, simply send an email, with .jpeg photo(s) attached, to Dennis In the email, include: a) photographer’s name, address and phone number; b) age group (16 or under/17 or older) c) name of the .jpeg photo (specify a series of two or more photos); and d) title of photo if it has one. That’s all there is to it.

Did I mention that it is free, easy, and a great opportunity to get a kid of any age excited about wildlife and outdoor photography?

We’ll be looking for your winning photo at the Yakima SunDome this weekend.