As we wrap up another year of winter and begin seasons of fishing, boating, camping, vacationing and hunting, it’s a pretty safe bet that you were present at one or more of the many “outdoor shows.”
Generally speaking, the three months after Christmas can be somewhat boring for the outdoor folks, especially after the waterfowling and deer seasons end. What would we do, how would we survive those dreary cold winter months without the opportunity to spend a few afternoons and evenings walking the aisles, listening to seminars, checking out the exhibits and visiting with old friends who enjoy the great outdoors just like us?
In the St. Louis area, folks are fortunate to have the Let’s Go Fishing Show, the All Canada Show, the RV Show and the largest and granddaddy of them all, the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show. For the 60th year, sportsmen and boaters will be blessed to spend hours and even days being entertained and amazed in late winter at the “really big show” in the St. Louis America’s Center and the Edward Jones Dome. The Clark family of Clark Boat and Motor Co., of East Alton, claims the honor of being there for all 60 years. Wow! That has to be an American Major League record.
The National Marine Manufacturing Association holds the rights to the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show and promotes it to the max. My friend, Mark Adams, of the NMMA, is the head man at the St. Louis show and throughout the years has brought entertaining and exciting exhibits for his patrons. Dating back to the '80s, the Becky Thatcher Trout Pond has been a fixture. (I have fond memories of hosting that event and experiencing the excitement of children landing their first fish with their proud parents watching.) Remember the chainsaw guys and the climbing wall? How about Twiggy the water-skiing squirrel, the variety of fishin’ tanks, the Dock Dogs and the shark lady. The annual turkey-calling competition draws many contestants and spectators. Not the least are the hundreds of boats (my, how they’ve changed in 60 years!) for which the show is famous, along with the ever-present fishing and hunting seminars and sporting goods dealers.
Each year the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show gives us something eye-catching, unusual and unforgettable. In my 40-plus years as a spectator, seminar speaker and sometimes sales rep, I thought I’d seen everything, but one event may stand out above them all. For the first time in my life I was introduced to a “sugar glider” named Shakespeare. Many other folks were also amazed and could hardly wait to take one home as a pet.
Just in case you’re somewhat like me and spend too much time huntin’ and fishin’ and have no idea what’s in the local pet store, a sugar glider is a small furry mammal 10 to 12 inches long with a tail accounting for more than half the overall length. They’re cute little guys and gals with large ears and big eyes. Native to Australia and Indonesia, they are said to be entertaining pets. Sugar gliders have a gliding membrane called a patagium that allows them to leap and glide from one place to another, similar to our flying squirrels.
Now we turn our attention to the folks who made this story possible ‒ the buyers and the sellers. I’m certain the most excited, aside from the kids and the gliders, was the salesman who, rumor has it, had to drive halfway to Texas during the show week to meet his supplier in order to replenish his stock, only to completely sell out again before the show came to an end. Only in America, folks. No, I didn’t buy one but probably should have.
The sugar glider story is just an example of the entertainment and memories that come from attending the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show. Take your friends and especially the kids. I don’t know if Shakespeare will be there but you will have fun; that’s a guarantee.
When: February 26 to March 2
- Wednesday: 5 to 9 p.m.
- Thursday: 2 to 9 p.m.
- Friday: Noon to 10 p.m.
- Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Sunday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.