PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — After a three-year hiatus, the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club’s Spring Sportsman’s Show is returning in full force to bring outdoor enthusiasts together next month.
The State of Maine Sportsman’s Show in Augusta, Eastern Maine Sportsmen’s Show in Orono and the Presque Isle event were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. In 2022, Presque Isle and Orono canceled while Augusta’s show returned. But this year, all three are on tap.
The show is a major fundraiser for the Aroostook County club, which at 350 members is one of the largest fish and game groups in Maine. Typically around 4,000 people attend the event from around the state and beyond.
“Our last show was in 2019 and we kept trying to come back, but COVID kept getting in the way,” said Nick Archer, chairman of the Spring Sportsman’s Show. “This year we are good to go.”
The show is slated for March 25 and 26 at Gentile Hall on the University of Maine at Presque Isle campus. While Archer doesn’t think the event will fully recoup the losses from the pandemic cancellations, he is excited that it’s finally returning.
The pandemic gave organizers a lot of time to think about the show. They proceeded with caution and got a late start this year, he said.
In 2022, most of the exhibitors donated their booth space fees to the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club.
More than 60 vendors have signed up for this year’s Sportsman’s Show, including new entrants Pedego Electric Bikes from Portland and Bike, Board and Ski of Presque Isle.
“Part of what makes northern Maine so special is the outdoors and what we can do here,” said Mike Chasse, Presque Isle city councilor. “Fishing and hunting is a big part of that.”
The popular L.L.Bean fish pond will return, with brook trout provided by Micmac Farms in Caribou for kids to catch and release. Youth can also try out ranges for rifles, laser guns and airbows.
Numerous outfitters, sporting camps, guide services and outdoor equipment dealers statewide will attend. Visitors can view demonstrations of outdoor arts and crafts and traditional snowshoe making.
Maine Professional Guides will hold their annual meeting during the show.
The door prize is a canoe donated by a local business.
Organizers will give away six bicycles, and kids 10 and under can win a free lifetime hunting and fishing license donated by Operation Game Thief.
Representatives from the Maine Conservation School of Bryant Pond will attend. The club raises funds, including from its sportsman’s show, for scholarships to send young people to the school. There, they learn outdoor skills at the Princeton or Bryant Pond locations through the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center.
An informational meeting will be held before the show on Friday, March 24, by the Aroostook Conservation Association, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine about a land conservation program to bring back deer wintering areas.
“The whole outdoor world will be there,” Archer said.
The club will also host a vendor banquet Saturday evening at the Northeastland Hotel. Some of the vendors travel as far as Quebec and all over New England, Archer said.
Vendors can reach out to the Presque Isle Fish and Game Club to reserve space.