Boat, sports show all about great outdoors

Published 6:06 pm Thursday, January 30, 2014

Outdoor sports companies of all sorts will be selling their wares at the Michiana Boat & Sports show. (Submitted photo)

Outdoor sports companies of all sorts will be selling their wares at the Michiana Boat & Sports show. (Submitted photo)

SOUTH BEND—There are plenty of winter sports opportunities to keep people out and active in Michiana at this time of year. But, there are some folks who can’t help but dream of the days when the warm sun will sparkle upon local waters once more.

Adding fuel to those summer dreams, boat and sports shows abound in the Midwest this time of year. One of those shows, the Michiana Boat and Sports Show, will be coming to South Bend’s Century Center, located at 120 St. Joseph St.

The show runs from Jan. 31 through Feb 2., and organizers plan to offer lots of indoor activities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

“It’s really shaping up,” said Dale Brindley, organizer of the event. “Last year, we filled 31,000 square feet, and this year, we plan to fill more than 47,000 square feet with about 75 vendors.”

A variety of outdoor sports-related companies and organizations will have booths where visitors can obtain information, book trips and perhaps even take advantage of special discounts available only at the show.

“We will have representatives from Canadian lodges; charter captains from Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and inland lakes; local fishing and hunting clubs; and many more sports-related businesses, including an archery range,” Brindley said. “There’s really too many companies to list.”

There will also be representatives from local rod- and tackle-builders, tackle dealers and licensed gun dealers selling their wares.

One of the biggest draws for sports shows like this one are the sleek, new models of boats that dealers typically display.

“This year, we have nine area boat dealers, a kayak dealer and a local Dodge dealer who will be attending,” Brindley said.

One of those boat dealers, St. Joseph’s Pier 33 will be returning to the show for the second year.

“It’s a show that energizes the local boating market because it’s the first chance for boaters and prospective boaters to get out and get onboard the new boats for the first time,” said Tighe Curran, general manager of Pier 33.

Nonprofit organizations and government agencies will also be present. In the past, the Michiana Power Squadron, Ducks Unlimited and the Indiana DNR have been represented. This year, the Boy Scouts of America will be holding a membership drive at the show.

“Anyone who attends the show wearing their scouting uniform will be admitted for free,” Brindley said.

Children 12 and under will also be admitted for free, and the price of admission for adults is $3 per person. Hours for the show are 3 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 2.

A number of speakers have also been engaged to lead seminars on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. and running until 7 p.m. Speakers include representatives from various outdoor sports companies as well as professional fishermen and tournament winners who specialize in bass, walleye and other species.

A random drawing and a door prize with an estimated value of $100 will be given away during each seminar. Winners must be present at the drawings.

Children will also find entertaining activities at the Michiana Boat and Sports Show. A free catch-and-release trout pond and an indoor archery range will be set up for kids to enjoy.

“Last year, we had 2,364 paying guests in attendance. That doesn’t include kids,” Brindley said. “We hope to have even more people come through this year. We’ve been working to make the show even bigger and better.”