In their annual harbinger of spring, the Penobscot County Conservation Association will roll out the red carpet this weekend for the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show.
Thousands of attendees will browse the aisle, as they have during 77 prior shows, and greet longtime exhibitors like the old friends they are. Want to book a trip to Lake Ontario? You can do it. Always wanted to visit a traditional Maine sporting camp? Plenty will be represented, as they always are. Just trying to find something fun for the kids to do? The show is just the ticket, with options including fly tying and archery.
Or, maybe you just want to do something to help the next generation of wildlife biologists or game wardens get the education that they need.
You may not know it, but every time you pay for a ticket to this show, that’s exactly what you’re doing.
Earlier this week a University of Maine’s public relations specialist sent out a news release that reminded me of an important point: Since beginning its scholarship program in 1960 with a single $150 award given to a student majoring in fish and game management, the PCCA has given more than $1.3 million to hundreds of students pursuing conservation-related careers.
According to UMaine, that scholarship program — funded in large part through the annual sportsmen’s show — has grown substantially, and now funds 21 annual scholarships to the university, as well as 10 at Unity College and three at the University of Maine at Machias.
So even though you might only be going to this weekend’s show to enter a few raffles, check out a couple of boats and (of course) stop by the BDN booth, you’ll also be making a difference that will be felt for years: Many of our future biologists are already receiving scholarship help from the PCCA, or will do so soon.
Kind of cool, isn’t it?
If you’ve been to past shows, you’ll likely see some familiar exhibits in a very familiar facility. If not, here’s what you need to know.
This year’s show hours: Friday 5-9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.. The event will be held in the UMaine field house and Memorial Gym, and in the adjacent pool. Single day tickets will cost you $8, with kids under 11 getting in for free; you can also purchase a full weekend pass for $15.
If you’re unsure what day to go, or what time of day to show up (these things matter, for reasons I’ll explain), here are a few tips:
If you’ve got kids, don’t miss the dogs. Seriously. They’ll love ‘em. (And so will you). And if you want to see the dogs — the Guns Up Hunting Retriever Club, to be more precise, you won’t be able to watch a demonstration on Friday. The pool area doesn’t open until Saturday, and that’s when these pooches will show what they can do. Their demonstrations are set for Saturday at 11:45 a.m., 4:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and for Sunday at 12:45 p.m.
No matter what day or time you show up, there will be interesting speakers talking about their areas of expertise. I’d highly recommend the BDN’s own Aislinn Sarnacki, who will be talking about hiking lessons she learned the hard way at noon on Sunday. If you want a complete list of speakers and demonstrations, you’ll find it here: http://conservationassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2016-FINAL-78th-PCCA.pdf
And of course, we’d love for you to stop by our BDN booth while you’re at the show. We’ll be taking registrations — free registrations — for our Win a Drift Boat Trip contest, and we’d love to talk to you about all things outdoors. Saturday visitors can stop by and pick up a weekend copy of the BDN, and we’ll be handing out the newest issue of our BDN Outdoors magazine and Bangor Metro all weekend long.
See you all at the show!
John Holyoke can be reached at email@example.com or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke