Like daffodils and budding trees, the International Sportsmen’s Expo is a sign that spring is here.
From March 13 through the 16, the expo was held at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy. The quarter-million square foot exhibition hall was a sea of exhibitors, demonstrations and activities dedicated to outdoor recreation.
Since 1998, sportsmen from throughout the west have come to Utah to participate in the expo.
As attendees entered the exhibition hall, they were teased by the alluring aroma of cast-iron cuisine. Classes and demonstrations on the art of Dutch oven cooking were offered as part of the expo, as well as a chance to see the International Dutch Oven Society World Championship Cook-off.
Attendees watched as teams competed in the preparation of desserts, breads and main dishes. A lucky few tasted the work of the competing teams.
At the opposite end of the hall was a massive houseboat from Lake Powell. Attendees toured the houseboat to see multiple sleeping quarters, bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, and a family room, as well as incredible features on the roof, such as a hot tub. From that vantage point one could look over the entire expo and scout one’s route through the hall.
In the center of the exhibition hall were the demonstrations and exhibitors dedicated to fly-fishing. Members of the Trout Unlimited organization gave demonstrations on tying the hottest flies for western waters. Nearby a narrow, long pool was used for fly-casting demonstrations and competitions.
Around these areas were exhibitors selling the latest in fly-fishing equipment, including flies, rods, reels and drift boats.
A large number of the exhibitors in the hall were hunting and fishing lodges from Alaska, Montana and as far away as Africa.
The trophy mounts and photos shown by these exhibitors were amazing. You could almost picture yourself holding a 40-pound King Salmon and smiling for a camera. That, of course, was the point.
The exhibitors were more than willing to set you up for the outdoor adventure of a lifetime.
For those wanting to stay closer to home and hit the dusty trails on their off-highway vehicles, several counties from southern Utah had booths offering trail maps and details on lodging and other services. There were also retailers of ATVs, side-by-sides, accessories and hauling trailers.
One of the highlights of the expo was the youth fair, presented by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The youth fair gave kids the opportunity to catch trout, tie flies, make leaf prints, and learn about wildlife habitat, and poaching. The laughter and smiles were proof that the youth fair was a huge success.
Adults were smiling, too.
As they left the expo there may have been spring flowers and budding trees in the parking lot, but the attendees were smiling because they had just participated in one of the other signs of spring in Utah: the International Sportsmen’s Expo.