Beginning the New Year with an outdoor adventure experience in an indoor venue is exactly what Doug Stewart from Missoula, my girlfriend Berny Croy and I did last weekend in Billings. Bill Reier JR from Bozeman has been producing 3 day hunting and fishing shows in Montana for as many years as I can remember. He calls these shows the Great Rockies Sport Shows. The first show of the year is always in Billings at the Metra Park complex, later on in February, March, and the first weekend in April he will take his outdoor adventure shows to Helena, Missoula, and Bozeman. The Billings show as I mentioned is the first show of the year and the largest show that Reier produces of the four, mainly because of the size of the Metra Park facility. With 150 vendors in 10x 10 foot booths or larger, these vendors are surrounded by more RV and boats than you can imagine so it is a great way to spend the day. There are always hunting and fishing seminars and this year’s main attraction was the popular West Texas Rattlesnake Show.
We attend each show to promote our statewide Montana Outdoor Radio Show and our popular web site montanaoutdoor.com, which are beginning our 18th year on the air and on line. Our statewide radio show which airs every Saturday morning from 6-8am is now broadcast on 25 radio stations statewide and our web site has thousand of unique visitors every day, week and month of the year. These Great Rockies Sport Shows are a great way for us to get the word out to potential new listeners and reconnect in person with longtime listeners.
One of the main attractions of these shows is vendors from South Africa and Argentina selling hunts for exotic animals. Leading up to the shows I was curious how these exhibitors would fare after the publicity that the Minnesota dentist generated last year with his now famous lion hunt. After speaking with a few of these vendors it was clear that interest for these international hunts was higher than ever from the people attending the show.
I also had a chance to speak with many of the RV and Boat dealers that participated in the show. “We had a very good year last year”, said Dustin Bretz from Bretz RV and Marine in Billings. Bretz is in the process of building a state of the art facility along Interstate 94 that will sit on 35 acres with a move in target date of late spring. “It is quite an upgrade from our current building which sits on 5 acres”, he said. Every dealer I spoke with told me sales were great last year and they were hoping that the buying trend continues into 2016.
Outdoor hunting and fishing shows are always worth the price of admission in my opinion because it helps get rid of cabin fever while you walk around and explore the products and services that over 150 vendors have to offer to enhance your outdoor experience. On top of that folks that attend these shows always run into friends that they haven’t seen for a while and it gives them an opportunity to catch up with hunting and fishing stories that are always supported by photos on their smart phones. As I mentioned earlier folks in Western Montana won’t have to wait long as the Great Rockies Sport Show tour will come to Missoula for a two day show at the Adams Center in March on the 12th and 13th.
(Written by the Captain – aka Mark Ward)