PORTLAND — Zachary Castillo was fascinated as he watched a representative of NorthWest Mineral Prospectors illustrate how to pan for gold, although his younger siblings, Aaron and Scarlett, were a little less enthralled.
His family were just starting their day visiting the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show at the Portland Expo Center on Wednesday morning.
The show will run through Sunday, with many of the most popular exhibits from past years back again, along with some exciting features that are new for this year.
Judging from the crowds that were flowing into the show as soon as it opened, it should be a good year for both vendors and visitors.
“We are the largest consumer show in the Northwest,” said Trey Carskadon of O’Loughlin Trade Shows, the company that puts the show on, “but we are not just a consumer event.”
He said the show also promotes conservation, as well as hunting and fishing.
Carskadon was happy to note a couple new features for 2020, including a visit from Steve Rinella of the popular Netflix show “MeatEaters,” which is about hunting and cooking wild game meat.
In what is being billed as MeatEater Sunday, Rinella will be joined by his friends from the show, Sam Lungren, Danielle Prewett, and Ryan Callahan. They will be on the cooking stage from noon to 4 p.m. preparing a selection of wild game and seafood for the audience.
“These guys are a really big deal,” Carskadon said. “They have a huge following. The feedback we are getting is overwhelming.
“It’s going to be standing room only.”
Another new feature is the Leupold’s first-ever VIP Movie Night at 8 p.m. Saturday. Four hunting movies will be shown, including “Uncommon Ground,” a movie by Randy Newberg, who will appear in person. In the film, Newberg ponders what it means to hunt remote public lands.
All proceeds will go to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. However, the 300-seat theater is already sold out.
Carskadon said the great response surprised them, and they have plans to expand the event next year and include more seating.
Popular returning features include the Bi-Mart Walleye Alley, a tank chock full of giant walleyes. There will be seminars at the alley featuring guides giving instruction on how to catch walleye in local waters through the course of the show.
The trout fishing pond is back, sponsored by Baxter Auto Parts, where kids can catch a trout or two.
The backyard BBQ display is back, where chefs will give seminars on how to cook everything from wild game to fish to dishes such as smoked pork. The Heads and Horns display and competition is as impressive as ever, and hunters can get their big game racks scored here.
The Garmin Tech Center will have all the latest electronics available.
The kid’s BB gun range has returned, as has the gold mining display.
The fly-casting pond is back, as is the impressive boat show.
And then there are the seminars for everything concerning fishing, hunting, camping, cooking, archery, fly-fishing, and more. There will be over 40 seminars each day.
There are hundreds of vendors with every kind of gear imaginable.
The Bob’s Sporting Goods booth is back with a big assortment of fishing gear deals. Cody Clark of Bob’s was happy to be back for another year.
“People come here for the deals and we never disappoint,” Clark said.
Laura McLoughlin, the manager of the Next Adventure discount outdoor gear store in Scappoose, Ore., said the show was always exciting.
“This is Next Adventure’s 12th year at the show,” McLoughlin said. “We have a lot of fun here.”
Cody Herman, the host of the popular television show “Day One Outdoors,” was promoting a fishing rod program that helps veterans at his booth.
“The rod program we are supporting here is through a charity called Home with Heroes that helps support veterans,” Herman said. “The general public can come out and buy these rods for $200 each, or if you are a veteran you get them for half price.
“The (proceeds) from these rods goes to help support veterans. Last year we got over 200 veterans out to fish in three states.”
Herman enjoys the show every year.
“It’s just great to have face time with people,” he said.
Dave Schamp of the conservation group “Hatchery-Wild Coexist” was maneuvering a cart through the crowds educating people about their cause.
“We’ll tell you as much as you want to know about why hatcheries are a big deal, and should be saved,” Schamp said.
“This is a great opportunity to make contact and network with folks that are interested in making our northwest fisheries better. One of the ways to do that is to increase hatchery production, but in a way that is least impactful on our wild fish.”
Attendees also have plenty of options in the way of food, with vendors of all kinds scattered throughout the show’s halls.
The show will run through Sunday. General admission tickets are $15, and general admission two-day passes are $24. Half day tickets can be purchased after 4 p.m. for $8, half-day children’s tickets are $2.50, and children five and under get in free. The military discount ticket is $8.
The show’s hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Parking is $10.
For more information or to buy tickets in advance, visit the Sportman Show online.