Gerald Almy: Sports show stacked with vendors

Gerald Almy

If you’re looking for activities to pass the time and make spring come more quickly, you’ll want to mark the weekend of February 20-22 on your calendar. Those are the dates for the 28th Western Virginia Sports Show at Augusta Expoland, just east of Staunton and a short drive down Interstate 81.

This is a nice show to visit because it has lots of attractions but isn’t quite as big and unmanageable as the large NRA show held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania earlier this month. A wide variety of outdoor equipment will be available to examine, test and buy. For many people, that’s reason enough to visit the show.

You’ll find everything from fishing rods, lures and flies to blackpowder and modern firearms, bows, crossbows, treestands, camo clothing, trail cameras, and game calls. Wildlife art and the artists who created it will be on hand, including Jack Paluh, the show’s “Wildlife Artist of the Year.”

A “trout pond” will be available for the young and old to try to catch a fish without battling the cold, wind, and ice outside.

A number of TV hunting and fishing show celebrities and other experts will be on hand to share their knowledge. Bob Hart, an expert on long range shooting, will give talks on his favorite pastime. Hart holds many shooting records, including being the five-time Jr. Bench Rest Champion and 1,000-yard World Open Champion with light gun.

Bob Foulkrod will also appear at the show. The Pennsylvania resident is well known for his television appearances and magazine articles. He has hunted across the globe and also runs a bow hunting school in Troy, Pennsylvania.

The whole family will enjoy the Welde Big Bear Show. The Welde family has trained bears that they bring, ranging from 200 to 1,200 pounds. The Weldes’ goal is to educate the public about bears through entertainment and promote respect and proper management for these intriguing animals.

If you like to shed hunt for antlers that male deer drop off anytime from January through April, you’ll be interested in visiting with Ronald Suntken, Jr. He has a website called Xtremeshedhunting.com and gives talks on this activity which is becoming more and more popular.

Suntken also trains dogs to hunt sheds and will talk about how you can do the same thing. At the first ever “Shed Hunting World Championship” held in 2012 one of his dogs received the award for “Fastest Shed Hunting Dog.”

Darin Freeborough will give a talk on trapping. He appears on the TV show “North American Trapper.” Hopefully some Shenandoah Valley residents will visit with this expert and begin trapping more of the varmints that are so abundant locally and need to be thinned out.

One of the most important talks Freeborough will give is a seminar on “Coyote Trapping and Control.” Coyotes take a serious toll on the Shenandoah Valley’s deer population and it would be a wonderful thing if more people trapped these predators. And coyotes don’t just kill sick deer. They’ll take down a fawn one minute and a 4-year-old, healthy trophy buck the next.

Raptors Up Close is another presentation that all family members will enjoy. Howard and Jason Caldwell are preachers and hunters who also enjoy the sport of falconry. They’ll have a number of these hunting birds on display at the show and give talks on the history of the sport and its status today.

Other celebrities at the show will include Reed Merideth of Wicked Tuna North vs South TV and Bobby Brantley of Bad Dog Nation TV.

Another highlight of the show is the Dennis Campbell Classic Turkey Calling Contest, to be held Saturday at 2 p.m. A variety of divisions will make the competition fair for everyone. There will be Senior, Friction, Intermediate (16-20 year olds), Jake (11-15 year olds), and Poult (10 and younger) categories. For more details on this contest, call 540-849-6336.

The show takes place at the Augusta Expo at Fishersville, Virginia Feb. 20-22. Admission is $9 for those 12 or older, $5 for 5-11 year olds, free for those 4 or younger. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. February 20, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. February 21, and 12 to 5:30 February 22.

For more information you can visit the show website at westernvasportshow.com.

Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.