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The Great American Outdoor Show

Hopefully, everyone will have power by the time this column hits the page and there will be light enough to read it! Rough week last week for most of us and I am very thankful that that ice storm is an event that is behind us.

The day before the ice, however, I had the chance to visit the Great American Outdoor Show with some friends up in Harrisburg, Pa. Last year, the long-running show was cancelled due to issues involving assault weapons. This year, the NRA took over the operation of the show and got it back on track. Although different in some ways from the past, there were some pluses and minuses from my viewpoint of the event.

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As a hardcore fisherman, I guess my biggest, maybe only, complaint is that I would like to have seen more angling related vendors, guides, sales and services at the show. The organizers were smart enough to put separate activities (hunting, fishing, watercraft, outfitters, etc.) in separate buildings and provide the public with a map designating the areas of interest. This is a huge plus, because you can burn a lot of time cruising about trying to find what your passion is at any outdoor show.

True, there was a sprinkling of fishing vendors and such, but I was hoping for more products that might be related to freshwater fishing from the ultralight/panfish/finesse type disciplines. I do understand that the majority often rules at these shows and that bass and trout get the headliner attention. Weren't too many trout related booths there. Trout Magnet, a smaller company that specializes in tiny baits, lines and accessories for the spinning angler, had some nice things and I made a few purchases.

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One huge improvement was the available areas for just sitting down at the tables provided and taking a rest. In the past, there were few places to just relax for a bit and drink a soda or eat a candy bar. These sit-down locations were spaced throughout the show complex. Excellent idea! Keep in mind that the city of Harrisburg had had an 8-inch snowfall the day before and plowing and removing the wet, heavy stuff had to have been a nightmare. However, roads were in pretty good shape and satellite parking worked out quickly and smoothly, without a hitch.

As always, food and drink prices at these, and other similar events, are a gouge and the best bet is to bring your own snack and drinking water items. We all wore comfortable shoes and used our cellphones to coordinate meeting places and times. A highlight of the trip was actually our evening meal the Cracker Barrel. I'm a sucker for grits and gravy and can scarf up a "breakfast-supper" anytime.

So, what was my best purchase of the event? That's easy; a pair of larger, wrap-around sunglasses that will easily cover my prescription glasses. They cover the sides well and are the amber/polaroid specs that will serve me so well when seeking bedding bluegills. Can't wait to use them! A few other gifts for my wife Linda and precious granddaughters and I was happy, happy, happy!

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