Outdoor enthusiasts from around the Rim Country, whether they are hunters, anglers, hikers, campers or mountain bikers, are gearing up for an upcoming expo designed to tickle the fancy of all who attend.
To be held Feb. 21 to 24 in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, the International Sportsmen’s Expo is an opportunity to experience first-hand the great Arizona outdoors.
It will draw fishing and hunting outfitters from around the state including several from Payson. The expo will also have on display the newest in fishing tackle and hunting gear, boats, motors, marine accessories, mountain home furnishings, ATVs, trucks, outdoor apparel and optics.
More than 300 companies from around the world have indicated they will host exhibits.
For those interested in trying their hand at fishing Alaska, Doc Warner’s Adventures will be on hand, as will the Alaska Sportfishing Exhibition.
Those who might want to venture from the mainland are sure to find the Safari Africa and Wow Africa exhibits enticing.
If you’re among those fuming over proposed gun control laws, the National Rifle Association will have a presence at the Expo. While NRA leader Wayne LaPierre probably won’t attend, his representatives are sure to have plenty to say about defending second amendment rights.
Also, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Arizona Deer Association and Eastman’s Trophy Deer will have information booths and displays set up throughout the entire show. The RMEF will host hold a rifle raffle as it did last year.
On Feb. 23 outside the stadium, the Boy Scouts of America Grand Canyon Council will host its annual Scout-O-Rama.
Among the biggest draws is sure to be the Arizona Game and Fish Department-hosted wildlife assets sale.
It is a chance for the public to legally purchase antlers, head mounts, hides and other wildlife parts that have been acquired through donations, obtained from animals killed in auto collisions or seized in poaching cases.
AG&F officers are also working with volunteers from the Desert Fly Casters to host a kids’ catch-and-release fishing pond.
Also, the Adobe Wildlife Center will have live wildlife on display.
Among the contests are duck and goose calling, Dock Dogs water jumping, a hunting dog competition, 3D pop-up archery shoot and the Best of the West Accuracy Fly-casting Tournament.
Ryan Switzer, a local sportsman who attended last year’s Expo for the first time, calls the event “a great way to spend an entire day just browsing, shopping, competing and having fun.”
Attendees who don’t find what they want in the stadium, need only walk across the street to the giant Cabela’s store to find even more outdoor offerings.
Those not interested in hunting, fishing or camping, might want to purchase a ticket simply to slip into the home of the Arizona Cardinals and check out the spot where Super Bowl LXII and WrestleMania XXVI were held.
The 63,400-seat stadium, with its retractable roof and playing field, is unlike any stadium in North America.
Adult admission to the Expo has been reduced to $12 from the $15 that was charged last year. Children under 16 years and active military with an ID card will be admitted free.
The Expo will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the first three days of the event and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission $2 discount coupons can be obtained by logging on to the Expo website at www.sportsexpos.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=ViewCustomPage& pagenumber=121. Parking is free with a paid admission.