2008 Milwaukee Outdoor Expo

When you’re hit with a harsh winter like we were this year in Wisconsin, it’s all the more enjoyable to get out and appreciate the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s annual “Sports Show.” Every year the Sports Show, which dates back to 1939, attracts over 150,000 visitors and nearly 500 exhibitors and features.   It’s a five day expo on the State Fairgrounds every March consisting of outdoor sports exhibits, as well as a large selection of boats, RVs, ATVs and outfitters.

My husband and I went on Saturday and were pleased to find the crowds very manageable.  Surprisingly, we were able to find parking right away and the ticket lines were long, but fast.  We went this year with a specific task in mind.  Due to a scheduling conflict, my families’ Canadian fishing adventure had to be cancelled for this coming summer and our job was to find a new outfitter.  For that purpose, the show was great.  We spoke one-on-one with over 15 Canadian fishing outfitters who could answer specific questions about what type of packages they offered. They were able to tell us on the spot if they had availability for this June which saved us a lot of time on the phone and internet.  We also gathered information on elk hunts offered throughout the U.S. in hopes of pursuing that adventure some day   Many exhibitors had photo albums of their outfit or ranch which can help you get a feel for the type of facilities and fish or game they offer.

The Sports Show offers a lot for kids as well.  Many of them were enjoying the “Kids Outdoor and Conservation Activities.”  There were glass cages filled with native Wisconsin critters, from snakes and salamanders to fish and turtles.  The rock wall had its share of climbers and there were daily contests to participate in, including archery, shooting and dog retrieving.  If we had more time I would’ve liked to stop by the scuba diving booth which was filled with gear and numerous instructors.  I’m curious as to what type of diving there is in Wisconsin.   I prefer warmth and clarity when I’m under water!

This year the Sports Show definitely served our purpose.  It helped us narrow down a new Canadian fishing outfitter and it inspired me to get out my bow and target shoot when we got home.  I would have preferred more bow hunting exhibits, but I’ll get my fill when we visit the “Buck and Turkey Show” in April at Madison’s coliseum which features mostly hunting.   It’s always fun to be surrounded by people who, like my family, have a passion for the outdoors.