Chicago Sun-Times
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Chicago outdoors: Rumination on the big week of outdoors show

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The big shows going head to head again next year is the big news for the big week of outdoors shows around Chicago.

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At least that is what was announced Sunday.

Management for the Chicago Outdoor Sports Show first notified exhibitors Sunday at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont that the 2014 show would be Jan. 22-26.

Shortly afterward, management of the new Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo announced their show would overlap at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

I think it is stupid. I also think both shows might survive the eating and beating of each other.

In part because a friend in the business nailed it when he called the Schaumburg show a regional one. It is a good show, professionally done, but a show that primarily draws the suburban crowd from the north, northwest and west suburbs, and Rockford and DeKalb markets.

And it is a fishing show.

Yes, it has free parking, but the parking is fractured and a problem if the hotel also has a major event. Frankly, the Schaumburg Convention Center is not a major Chicago venue in the same way that McCormick Place or the Stephens Convention Center are.

Chicagoans, in particular, will stick with Rosemont. Yes, the parking is too high in the convention center lot. But smart showgoers at Rosemont park at the CTA lot for $5 and walk the couple blocks to the convention center.

Even smarter showgoers use the CTA to get to Rosemont. I have done that several times in bad weather.

Another fishing friend, note the fishing part of that, came with his family to Rosemont because ``we have always come here.'' History is on the side of Rosemont.


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And so is the fact that Rosemont remains a full-service outdoors show with attractions for kids and families, along with booths for hunters and fishermen.

That said, opening day at Rosemont might have been the most poorly attended show I ever saw. But Saturday was packed from reports from multiple booth holders and attendees. Sunday was steady until mid-afternoon as I spent the day at the Heartland Outdoors booth.

Schaumburg had solid flow all four days from the assessment of booth holders and a variety of attendees. Whether that was enough to pay the bills of booth holders I do not know.

It was fun to have a big fishing show like the Schaumburg show again. It would have been even more fun for it to be in and fill a big venue.

In Sunday's column, I described the Schaumburg show as big and the Rosemont one as small.

In mulling that for a few more days, I think I overstated the case for Schaumburg and understated the draw of Rosemont.


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A faithful reader chided me on the Schaumburg show, saying one big name (the biggest in fishing in Kevin VanDam) can't save a show. He said not enough tackle sale options were available.

Rosemont might have had the edge on that, tackle-sale options.

But the reader also noted a larger problem. You could reasonably get through both shows in two hours or so. That's a far cry from the old days when an entire day could be spent at the big outdoors show.

Maybe times, and use of our time, is changing.

A sign of that certainly came at Rosemont.

While the crowds were OK at Rosemont for the outdoors show over weekend, the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show upstairs was jammed wall to wall with people, supposedly drawing a record crowd on Saturday.

It was a graphic difference. Vacations, they are a-changin'.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on January 29, 2013 9:37 PM.

Ramble with Storm: Cojones, reckless idiocy & sanity was the previous entry in this blog.

In memory: Obit for Russ Schaller is the next entry in this blog.

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