CLEVELAND, OH – I made it over to the IX Center for the Boat Show/Fishing Expo and had a really good time. With events like this, I always see all over Facebook and social media the same question… “is it worth going?”. Simply put, to me, it was. I know that is a matter of opinion, but if you read this post, I think it will be evident why I found it worthwhile.
The ‘Boat Show’ portion was what you typically expect if you have attended one in the past, even at a different venue. A good sampling of retailers offering about every type of boat imaginable, some types more represented than others, but everything from large crafts down to PWC’s. Many boats had very prominent labeled pricing, which I always think is good. As for the pricing itself, I just haven’t been in the market for a boat so I don’t have good reference to know if any “Show Specials” were in fact great deals. Being an avid kayak fisherman, I had the very specific hope of getting to meet some of the faces/personalities I enjoy following and interacting with in various media. I was barely through the entrance when I spotted the familiar face of Quinton Echols, and fellow Hobie Kayak Fishing Team members Joe Meno & Darrell Cornelius. They were at the Sun Valley Sports booth representing that retailer and of course, Hobie Kayaks. We had a great time sharing fish stories with a lot of good laughs. Kayak fishing has a true ‘brotherhood’ feeling.
The ‘Fishing Expo’ portion had a few vendors that I had come with the intent to find. At the top of the list, was the Cleveland Fishing Company. I enjoyed a nice conversation with Brian Tighe, recalling how I discovered the brand and enjoying watching it’s tremendous growth. Brian is a very down to earth type of guy and someone if you spend any time at all talking with, it’s easy to see why he is successful. Although I’ve never fished with him, I am happy to consider him a ‘kindred spirit’ in the NE Ohio fishing scene. As for this company’s apparel, the designs are awesome. They have a distinct bold urban love of Cleveland, blended perfectly to the outdoors and fishing. Everything looks great on or off the water. Worth mentioning, is that a % of gross profit, goes to The Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund. This fund has contributed to volumes of children’s first catches and personally has provided my family many great memories.
My wife had a long list of errands to run so we used the divide and conquer philosophy to approach the day. Her getting needed logistics done, while I would keep the kids (& myself!) entertained. This is where the show really shined and where the bulk of this post will be focused. This is not to discount the fact that even had I not had the kids with me, the show would have been worthwhile. I just want to note the exceptional value it had due to the fact that they were with me and how much fun they had. The first fun activity, fishing for trout pictured above!
As a parent, one of my greatest joys is when I see my kids having fun while learning. This is especially true if they are learning about anything fishing, fish, or the water they swim in. I was very thankful to Jill Bartolotta and the kind gentleman pictured above for taking time with my kids to make a lure. This booth was the Ohio Sea Grant. I enjoyed reading their literature and learning more about what they do. I know many people see Gibraltar Island in the summer when heading to Put In Bay and hear associated terms like Stone Lab and Ohio State, I encourage you to learn more by visiting the website.
A special thank you to Susan Bixler, also from The Ohio State University / Ohio Sea Grant for allowing my son to hold a snake. The kids were very content just getting to see the creatures, but getting to actually hold one, was a rare unique experience.
Along with the expertise of professionals manning the booths, there was plenty of self directed fun. Pictured above, there were several walls of fish cut-outs that needed matched to the correct species name. The kids had fun completing all of the walls while I just watched and dreamed that I was actually catching all those fish.
My son has a special gift with art and was a little disappointed that nearly all of the canvases were completely filled. Using some white paint, he was able to select an area that was more less a splattered mess, and put a fish over it. My daughter added a frog.
In total, I shot over 100 pictures that included at least 20 different areas of activity or exhibit. For the sake of time and the length of this post, I had to exclude a lot of what I planned to cover. To the countless number of folks that entertained and/or educated my children and I, thank you. I’m certain we will be back again next year!