A crew from the Tri-County Technical Center works on building a canoe at the 78th annual Eastern Maine Sportsmen's Show in 2016. Credit: Courtesy of Aislinn Sarnacki

Enthusiasts of fishing, hunting, paddling and the Maine outdoors had been eagerly looking forward to the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show scheduled in March at the University of Maine.

As has been the case for the previous two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on those hopes and expectations.

The 82nd edition of the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show has been canceled again, the Penobscot County Conservation Association announced on Friday.

However, organizers determined that the event, which had been scheduled for March 11-13 at the University of Maine’s New Balance Field House in Orono, could not be held.

“The show’s committee and PCCA board met this week and determined that there were too many risks and uncertainties at this point to move forward with the show,” the association said. “There was hesitancy among both vendors and the general public to participate in the show with the virus rates currently spiking and the show just seven weeks away.”

The organization recently had announced the specifics of the UMaine vaccination and masking policies that would have been in effect during the show. Those include requiring all in attendance to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 and to wear masks over the nose and mouth at all times while indoors.

That news, the Penobscot County Conservation Association said, resulted in some of the vendors withdrawing from participation in the show.

“The decision was made to focus on 2023, with hopes of returning to more normal operations and being able to offer a full venue with vendors and programs for all ages to enjoy,” it said.

The sportsmen’s show has the dubious distinction of being the first major event in the Greater Bangor area to be canceled because of the onset of the pandemic in 2019.

The 2021 edition of the show was officially postponed in November 2020 in anticipation of complications presented by the pandemic.

The show is the primary fundraiser for the non-profit Penobscot County Conservation Association, which has now been unable to generate those funds for three years in a row. The organization is exploring other fundraising opportunities.

Founded in 1928, the group strives to promote and preserve Maine’s sporting heritage and wildlife. The money raised from activities like the show are instrumental in funding other programs such as scholarships for conservation law and wildlife ecology students and scholarships for youth conservation camps and other initiatives.

It is the longest break in the run of the Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show since a five-year hiatus in and around the time of World War II.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...