Need a harbinger of spring? Outdoor show season is approaching

When we get a snowstorm every two or three days (which seems to be the pattern recently), it’s easy to get discouraged with Maine’s winter weather.

Since I’m all limbered up after yet another shoveling expedition, I thought I’d share some good news: Spring is coming. Kind of.

Or at the very least, one of my favorite harbingers of the eventual arrival of spring is nearly upon us.

It’s outdoors expo time!

The season kicks off next weekend with the Penobscot Fly Fishers’ Cabin Fever Reliever. The week after that — Mach 7-9, the action moves to the University of Maine for the popular Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show, which is staged by the Penobscot County Conservation Association. Then attention moves to Augusta (March 28-30) and Presque Isle (April 5-6).

Today we’ll focus specifically on the Brewer Cabin Fever Reliever, which will take place March 1-2 at the Brewer Auditorium.

If you want to stop by, doors will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Sam Kenney, then 11 years old, ties a fly during the 2010 Cabin Fever Reliever show in Brewer. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

Sam Kenney, then 11 years old, ties a fly during the 2010 Cabin Fever Reliever show in Brewer. (BDN photo by John Holyoke)

This low-key affair is one of my favorites of the season. The pace is slower than you might find at other shows, which encourages attendees to stop and chat with exhibitors. Organizers have long sought to hold a show that is more about education and less about vendors trying to sell you something.

They’ve succeeded.

Go to the show (admission, as always, is free), and you might get to tie a fly. You could find out that your son or daughter really enjoys shooting at targets with a bow. You’re may learn some helpful tips about map and compass navigation. And you’ll surely meet some cool hunting dogs.

And as has become our tradition, the folks from the BDN Outdoors crew — Me, Aislinn Sarnacki and our boss, Aimee Thibodeau, will be on hand to talk about what we do … and to hear what you think we ought to be doing more of.

In fact, Sarnacki will be playing an even bigger role in this year’s show, as she’ll be one of the featured speakers on Saturday. She’ll begin her presentation at 2:30 p.m. and will share a multimedia look at some of her favorite Maine hikes.

The show will feature more than 50 exhibitors, with many hands-on displays that will entertain attendees of all ages.

Mark McCullough works on a painting during the 2013 Cabin Fever Reliever in Brewer. (BDN photo by Brian Swartz)

Mark McCullough works on a painting during the 2013 Cabin Fever Reliever in Brewer. (BDN photo by Brian Swartz)

While there are always plenty of interesting booths, here are a few suggestions: Stop by Sam Kenney’s fly-tying station and watch this teenager do his thing. You’ll be amazed.

Then visit with Ed Muzeroll of Muzzy’s Flies, who is one of the top tiers of classic Atlantic salmon flies you’ll ever meet. The flies he creates are simply works of art.

And make sure you stop by Mark McCullough’s booth, where you’ll be able to watch this top-notch artist while he works on a painting during the show. Haven’t heard of McCullough? That’s OK. You’ve surely seen his work, every time you drive down the highway: He’s the guy whose art graces the state’s conservation loon license plates.

Specifics about the outdoor shows on the horizon:

- 76th Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show, March 7-9 at the University of Maine field house, Memorial Gym and Wallace Pool. Show hours: Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Tickets: $8 for those age 12 and older, $15 for a weekend wristband, children younger than 12 get in free.

- 34th State of Maine Sportsman’s Show, March 28-30 at the Augusta Civic Center.

- Presque Isle Fish & Game Club Sportsman’s Show, April 5-6 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Gentile Building. Show hours: Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets: $5 for those older than 10, free admission for those 10 and younger.

 

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.