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Season for outdoors shows right around the corner

The Chicago Outdoor Sports Show had strong first year last January Rosemont but it is being challenged this seasby big-time

The Chicago Outdoor Sports Show had a strong first year last January in Rosemont, but it is being challenged this season by a big-time fishing show in Shcaumburg. | Dale Bowman~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 26, 2012 6:26AM



The forecasted demise of outdoors shows apparently is overblown. In the Chicago market, there even comes the equivalent of a gas war.

The Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo, presented by the American Sportfishing Association, is a major new fishing show Jan. 24-27 at the Schaumburg Convention Center.

I was all excited about the news.

That is, until I realized it was going head-to-head with the major outdoors show in the Chicago market: the Chicago Outdoor Sports Show on Jan. 23-27 at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

That strikes me as a cutthroat business decision that will work to the detriment of the overall good of the outdoors world. It seemed odd, at the very least.

So I checked in with Hall of Famer Spence Petros, the top Chicago-area show presenter (and a show-going addict since his childhood).

‘‘I think it is a bad idea,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t understand the logic behind it.’’

He said he will stick with doing presentations at Chicago Outdoor Sports Show.

‘‘I feel bad because I would like to see both succeed,’’ Petros said.

It might work that way. The head-to-head battle might invigorate shows and show-goers alike. The right competition can force smarter thinking.

We already have seen some of that smarter thinking.

The Chicago Outdoor Sports Show fired back by starting and co-locating with the Chicagoland Gun Show. It might be a stroke of genius.

And the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo brings the big time. We haven’t seen a collection of fishing manufacturers and representatives of this magnitude in two decades.

Included are Shimano, Daiwa, Okuma, Quantum, St. Croix, Temple Fork Outfitters, Lew’s Fishing Tackle, Gamma Fishing Line, Rapala, Plano, G. Loomis, Frabill, Ardent, Garmin, Eagle Claw, PowerPro, Stick Jacket, Lucky Craft, Humminbird, MinnKota and Simms.

And a national who’s who of presenters — Kevin Van Dam, Michael Iaconelli, James Lindner, Gary Parsons, Mark Zona and Joe Bucher — already have been inked.

That’s a listing worthy of the Chicago market, though I’m not sure a mid-level venue such as the Schaumburg Convention Center — free parking and all — is worthy of a show of that magnitude.

But I will love finding out. It might be a week for me that rivals when the BASS Masters Classic was in Chicago in 2000.

On the state level, the Field & Stream Deer & Turkey Expo has moved dates and site to Feb. 1-3 at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield.

And the second week of January features four shows: the Progressive Chicago Boat, Sports & RV Show at McCormick Place, the All-Canada Show at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, the Chicago Muskie Show at Harper College in Palatine and the Northwest Indiana Steelheaders Spring Fever Outdoor Show at Marquette Mall in Michigan City, Ind.

The stable center in the Chicago outdoors show scene remains Rich Komar’s Tinley Park Fishing and Outdoor Show on the second weekend of February.

And the Bears, despite their debacle Monday night, should be playing well into January, as should the Packers.

Things are never simple in a big market such as Chicago.



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