Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Full slate of outdoor trade shows in New York after COVID hiatus

The Albany Gun Show was one event that did take place in 2022, although with a mask mandate. More challenging this year for gun show promoters and consumers alike is the Concealed Carry Improvement Act. (Photo by Dan Ladd)

Niagara Falls, N.Y. — It looks like full steam ahead for outdoor trade shows as we flip the calendar for another year. COVID had a negative impact on many of those shows, an important connection between the public, manufacturers, charter captains and outfitters, tackle shops, gun shops, collectors, and other small outdoor-related businesses.

Many shows were able to pull off holding their event in 2020, but as the coronavirus wrapped its tentacles around the world, all shows in 2021 were canceled and a good portion of 2022 also bit the dust. It appears that 2023 will be a breakthrough year for sport, travel, and outdoor shows once again. It’s about time!

The 8th Annual Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo, at the Niagara Falls Convention Center (www.niagarafishingexpo.com), is excited by what the future holds for this pure fishing show focused on angling education. Because of COVID, show organizers have even changed their dates as they tried to desperately hold on in 2021 and 2022. The new dates are Feb. 16-19, 2023, adding a day to the previously three-day show.

“We are excited about all of the new things that we have incorporated into our fishing Expo,” insists Joe Yaeger of East Amherst, the maestro who organizes over 200 seminars for this information-rich event. “Our Salmon School is one of the most popular events of its kind on the Great Lakes, selling out every year. As a result of its popularity, we have created a Walleye School for Lake Erie in 2023. We have also added a much bigger focus on fly fishing, as well as beginner schools on salmon fishing, walleye fishing, kayak fishing and bass fishing. We even have a Super Kids Fishing Clinic that also includes the parents. It’s four days of education for all levels of angling expertise.”

With the expansion of the fly-fishing section, it will make the Expo the largest fly-fishing show in the state – a show within a show. There will be hands-on fly casting and fly-tying demonstrations throughout the event.

A unique fly-fishing “social” will take place on Friday (Feb. 17) that will include movies, seminars, fly-fishing vendors, as well as food and drink. The Lake Erie Chapter of Fly Fishers International will be hosting a Fly-Fishing School for beginners, women, men, and junior anglers age 12 and older.

Another aspect of the show returns this year after a kick-off event in 2020 – an Open House of sorts for the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Fisheries. Lake managers and biologists for Lakes Erie and Ontario will be there in-person and answer questions, along with many other personnel from hatcheries, the tributaries, the Finger Lakes and more.

In addition to the education, there will be over 170 vendors in the main event hall to help fill your tackle boxes or out-rig your boat. Check out the website for lists of speakers, topics, and exhibitors.

The 19th Annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show (www.adkshow.com) returns Feb. 25-26 at the Johnstown Moose Club in Johnstown (Fulton County). After canceling 2021 and 2022, show promoter Mike Hauser with Twin City Sports Promotions is excited over what the prospects hold for this year.

“We got very lucky in 2020, as we got the show in just ahead of the shut-down,” Hauser said. “However, it caused us to cancel the 2021 and 2022 events. The last thing I wanted to do was play ‘mask-police’ with our attendees, so I thought it best that we cancel last year as well. We are very excited to be bringing the event back in 2023 and we plan to infiltrate some new vendors into the line-up. Everywhere I go, people are thrilled to hear it is coming back. Outdoorsmen are hungry to get back together in a social setting to talk about their passions. This excites me and we hope to have a tremendous turn out in 2023.”

This show is geared to all aspects of the outdoors, from hunters and anglers to boaters and other outdoors enthusiasts. It’s a great way to relieve a severe case of cabin fever.

For the many gun shows around the state, it wasn’t just COVID that put up a roadblock to stop or restrict having shows around the state, the Concealed Carry Improvement Act that was passed over the summer posed its own set of challenges for show promoters involved with guns heading into the new year.

“Our first show in Syracuse held last September was gangbusters,” said Sandy Ackerman, who is involved with the New York Arms Collectors Association, Mid-State Arms Collectors, and Sydney Gun and Knife Show. They found out very quickly that there was a problem with the new laws.

“There are different interpretations of the laws,” Ackerman said, “even from the people who are charged with enforcing those laws. Everyone is still confused. A gun show procedure agreement must be signed with the Attorney General’s office. Vendors must sign a contract to abide by state and federal laws. I hate what the governor has done, and people are scared. Sales are struggling now. It makes things harder to sell tables. Some people prefer to stay home and sell out of their shops. Some shops are going out of business.”

Mark Romanack, of the Fishing 411 television show, will be one of the featured speakers and vendors at the 2023 Greater Niagara Fishing and Outdoor Expo, which – like many similar events – returns in February after canceling in 2021 and 2022. (Photo by Bill Hilts Jr.)

As things slowly settle down, her next show will be a big event – the Albany Gun Show – at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center Jan. 21-22 with up to 450 tables. There will also be a show at the Elks Lodge in Sydney (Sydney Gun and Knife Show, Delaware County) on Feb. 5. Ackerman hopes attendance will be brisk for both of those events. If you would like more information, call her at 607-748-1010.

Bruce Johnson, who operates the Niagara Frontier Gun Shows out of Akron (www.nfgshows.com), is planning on holding less than half of the events he ran prior to COVID in 2023.

“I’d rather not think back on those horrible times,” Johnson said. “All we can do is move forward. Yes, we are complying with all the state and federal gun laws at all our shows. Our biggest event is in Hamburg (Jan. 7-8) at the Fairgrounds, in Erie County, and we may have missed it for this article. However, there will also be shows there in April and September.”

For something new, the Pistol Permit offices for Erie and Niagara County will also attend each Hamburg show to help make everything happen. They will also be there to endorse pistol permits for anyone purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, which is now required.

The next show on the calendar for Johnson will be the Wolcottsville Show Jan. 21-22 at the Wolcottsville Fire Company. As an experiment, because this show is in Niagara County, the Niagara County Pistol Permit Office will be attending. A show is also scheduled at the Alexander Fireman’s Recreation Hall on Feb. 5 in Alexander. For more information call Bruce Johnson at 716-542-9929.

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