People look at a moose that was brought in to be tagged and weighed at the Gateway Varety store in Ashland Monday on the first day of moose hunting in 2016. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

One of the important ways Mainers have been able to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is to head outdoors.

Fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling and riding all-terrain vehicles are some of the activities that have brought people together.

Starting Friday, those who love the outdoors and all it offers will finally have the chance to gather indoors in a group setting to talk about their passion for the state’s recreational opportunities.

The Augusta Civic Center is the venue for the 40th edition of the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show put on by The Maine Sportsman magazine and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

The event returns after a two-year absence caused by the pandemic.

“The interest in outdoor activities has really skyrocketed. More people have stayed closer to home in Maine,” Will Lund, editor of The Maine Sportsman, said in gauging interest in the show, which is being held for the first time since the onset of COVID-19.

Lund mentioned the increase in ATV sales and business at fishing-related businesses as some that have thrived as folks have sought to spend more time outside.

“I think while the in-person gatherings have been limited or non-existent, and the interest in those activities has really peaked, so we are excited,” he said.

The Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show was canceled in 2022 for the third consecutive year, so the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show will be the first large-scale event of its kind held since 2019.

The show begins Friday and runs through Sunday. The hours are from 1-8 p.m. Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 5-12, active military and seniors. Kids under 5 are admitted free.

The Augusta Civic Center will be bustling with more than 100 exhibitors and will include seminars, demonstrations and plenty of activities for youngsters. Numerous guide services, outfitters and sporting clubs; gun, tackle and sporting equipment companies; and other outdoors-related businesses will be on hand.

“We appreciate the willingness of the vendors and seminar presenters to participate,” said Lund, who expects more than 6,000 people to come through the doors.

More than 100 vendors and 50-plus presenters will share their products and knowledge with attendees.

The participants represent a wide range of concerns including powersports, animal rehabilitation, food, boating, leatherworking, quilting, trapping, dog training, fishing equipment, camping, artwork, furniture, cooking, paddling, snowmobiling and many others.

“It is quite a production to put on a show of this size with this number of exhibitors,” Lund said, praising the efforts of all involved with the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and “The Maine Sportsman” who have helped to make it a reality.

“It’s a time where outdoors people realize how much they have in common. It’s a chance to renew acquaintances,” Lund said.

He explained that planning for the show has been in the works since shortly after the most recent one was held back in 2019.

The State of Maine Sportsman’s Show also will feature numerous seminars. Friday’s lineup will include the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Native Fish Coalition, Big Woods Bucks and Fins & Furs Adventures.

On Saturday, among the presenters are Maine Audubon, Maine Women Hunters, Denny “Wild Cheff” Corriveau, Allagash Tails and the University of Maine Tick Lab. Sunday’s lineup includes the Maine Sporting Camp Association, Poulin Firearm and Militaria Auctions and Back Country Hunters and Anglers.

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...