This is the biggest week in memory for outdoors shows around Chicago, and here's my collection of snapshots and notes from two opening days.
I did a column for the Sun-Times on Sunday catching a broader feel.
This posting is more for the snapshots.
The big new fishing show, the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo at the Schaumburg Convention Center, opened Thursday.
In the early evening Thursday at Schaumburg, I bumped into Jim Saric, Chicago's great teacher, multi-species fisherman and publisher of Musky Hunter, and he had this assessment, ``I told a friend, ``If Kevin VanDam, the biggest names in fishing, can draw at 2:30 on a weekday, it will be a success.' ''
There was an SRO crowd of some 350 to see KVD work the Hawg Trough with a generic presentation on bass fishing tips.
I think Saric's assessment was smack on.
My overall feel was just enjoying the vibe of the show. It's alive.
There were bigwigs, big-name fishermen (a female fan was tongue-tied in KVD's presence, a male friend had his photo taken with Mike Iaconelli) and big people in the business side of fishing.
Here's some little moments.
Long-time readers know I tend toward the arty-farty side.
Well, I found it in Jonathan Marquardt of BadAxe Design. He does fishy art. He said grew up in Hinsdale and now lives in Madison, Wis. I was fascinated by how many layers there are in his art when he explained his linocut technique, a version of woodcut from linoleum.
A friend, whom I will protect in case his wife is reading, had the quote of opening day at Schaumburg: ``If I had any money, I would be in real trouble,'' he said.
Yes, there is actual fishing stuff to purchase.
On Wednesday, I went to what is usually the big traditional show, the Chicago Outdoor Sports Show at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.
It was quiet and the crowd was small.
One veteran show goer said it reminded him of the final year at the Amphitheatre.
I talked to a buddy on Thursday and he said there was more of spurt for awhile. I shall see when I go back and sit in the Heartland Outdoors booth for Sunday.
But a couple things caught my eye and ears on Wednesday on opening day.
My favorite was Dan Gapen Sr. telling a bunch of stories in front of one of his old posters at Dan Basore's Historical Fishing Display (booth 131).
My favorite story was when he was talking about the fishing-related commercial he did for Hamm's Beer; in part it was fun because he said he doesn't drink.
I just like being able to mention Hamm's Beer, what a loaded memory. So to speak.
BTW, Chicago fishing historians will love that Basore has the Lindner brothers' first Muskie Mauler lure on display at Rosemont
Let me finish up on my arty-farty side.
Todd Carlander, a carpenter/musician/fisherman friend, found that Donny Van Orman had these really cool hand-crafted electric guitars on display.
Van Orman's booth (810) was the for his Loop-ez, a patented anchoring system for truck beds. But his passion is hand-crafting the guitars from maple he picked and carved himself.
Another carpenter/musician/fisherman friend, Jeff Nolan of Bridgeport Bass, asked if he would hook up an amp so he could try one.,
And Nolan drew a crowd when he began finger-picking the electric. People from other booths and aisles peered around the corner and listened.
Tomorrow, I am off to The Hammond Outdoor Sports Show at the Jean Shepherd Community Center in Hammond, Ind., probably around noon.
Sunday, back to Rosemont.
ALSO THIS WEEKEND
Strictly Sail Chicago is at Navy Pier.
The Illinois Fish & Feather Expo is at the Interstate Center in Bloomington. I have yet to visit this because it generally is the same weekend as the big shows.
Feb. 1-3: Field & Stream Deer & Turkey Expo, Prairie Capital Convention Center, Springfield
Feb. 1-3: Great Outdoor Expo, Timber Creek Convention Center, Sandwich
Feb. 8-10: Rockford Boat, Vacation and Fishing Show, Indoor Sports Center
Feb. 9-10: Tinley Park Fishing and Outdoor Show, Tinley Park High School
Feb. 10: Henry Decoy Show, Henry-Senachwine High School
Feb. 13-17: Chicago RV & Camping Show, Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont
Feb. 15-17: Our World-Underwater, Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont
Feb. 15-17: Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl Expo, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis
Feb. 15-24: Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show, Indiana State Fairgrounds,
Feb. 22-24: Lake Home & Cabin Show, Schaumburg Convention Center
Feb. 23: Chicago Maritime Festival, Chicago History Museum
Feb. 23-24: Great Outdoors Expo, Woodstock North High School, Woodstock
[ADD] March 2: Illinois Smallmouth Alliance's Bronzeback Blowout, Elmhurst American Legion
March 2: Salmon Unlimited Swap Meet, River Park Moose Lodge, River Grove
March 2-3: Elmwood All Outdoors Show, Elmwood High School and Grade School
March 6-10: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show, Wisconsin Exposition Center, West Allis, Wis.
March 8-10: Canoecopia, Alliant Energy Center, Madison, Wis.
March 9: Indoor Fishing Flea Market (Chicago Muskie Hunters), Rolling Meadows High School (ADD)
March 22-24: Rockford RV, Camping & Travel Show, Indoor Sports Center