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A Weekend Of Smiles At America’s Outdoor Fishing & Hunting Show

No matter where you looked this weekend you saw something consistent throughout the show. Regardless of age or gender, or what outdoor activity brought you to the show, or whether you were an exhibitor or attendee, you eventually ended up wearing one, if not many, of these. It didn’t matter the time of day, what you had on, what side of the table you were occupying or whether you were giving or appreciating a seminar. What was it that everyone had in common? Big, healthy, happy SMILES!

Saturday Morn at America's Outdoor ShowAs we approached the Douglas E. Stephens Convention Center on Saturday, it was clear we were going to be busy – a sizable crowd had assembled and were standing in line waiting for the doors to open. There were a number of families in the crowd, and before the day was done, a number of little fishermen went home with one of 300 cane poles that were being given away. How many of us started fishing with a cane pole, a bobber, a hook and a bunch of worms? Ah the good ol’ days….

Americas's Outdoor Show - Great LayoutThe layout of the show proved excellent for handling the crowds. The aisles were spacious, and the layout reduced, if not eliminated, bottlenecks. The organizational scheme was helpful. As this show grows and loses some of its superfluous vendors, the unique layout will become even more useful. By next year the remnants of the previous management’s flea market atmosphere should be gone. This will make way for even more high quality outdoor exhibitors and vendors.

Gary Talarico & Babe Winkelman

Gary Talarico & Babe Winkelman

The seminars were very well attended throughout the weekend. Babe Winkelman and Mike Iaconelli shared a wealth of knowledge and experience in their seminars. Ike even conducted a “closed door session” with the high school fishing teams on Sunday. Jason Reynolds of Fish-N-Fetch kept large crowds entertained as he educated them in the Hawg Tank area. Jason has a unique exhibit, a 4,000 gallon mobile aquarium stocked with fish, where he teaches fishing techniques and expert dog handling.

Jason Reynolds of Fetch-N-Fish

Jason Reynolds of Fetch-N-Fish

Trout Pond - America's Outdoor ShowThe archery ranges and exhibitors were very active throughout the weekend, as was the trout pond and the numerous children’s activities. Opportunities to interact with wildlife and stewards of our great outdoors were everywhere. Among the things offered – you could see an owl or a hawk up close, handle a huge albino boa constrictor, or talk with numerous officials and experts. You could learn to tie flies, as well as how to cast them. The airsoft range was a big hit and was always busy. There was no way you could be bored at this show….unless you visited the boar exhibit. 🙂

We found ourselves uncontrollably drawn to the Grandt Industries booth, where vast numbers of their amazing, custom, American-made fishing rods were on display. The owner, Jim Grandt, and his crew of experts, were on hand to answer questions about their amazing fishing rods. This was also where fishing pro Rick LaPoint was hanging out when he wasn’t helping folks learn about the latest electronics.

Big Game - America's Outdoor ShowThere were a number of resorts and outfitters on hand, providing great info and helping folks plan memorable hunting, fishing and outdoor vacations. Whether you wanted to hunt & fish in Canada or right here at home, some of the finest guides and camps on both sides of the border were at the show. Maybe you enjoy big game hunting, or always wanted to go on a safari, people like Jim Gangler of Gangler’s Lodge & Outposts were answering questions and helping people plan their trips.

Two Bears Trading Company

Two Bears Trading Company

Personal highlights of the show….

  • Aimee found the beaver mittens she’d been searching years for at Two Bears Trading Company.
  • Mike at BaxMax introduced me to their wonderful products, making enjoyment of the show with a herniated disk possible.
  • Gary Talarico, president of LureSecure, provided the entire Moline High School Bass Fishing Team with LureSecure Lure Wraps, thus solving the problem of fishing hooks in the hallways.
  • Watching Jim Sugarman, the man in charge of the show, taking time with vendors, exhibitors and show patrons, personally making sure everyone was having a good time.
  • Being present at the trout pond when a very young man caught a fish on his cane pole.

LureSecure Lure Wraps

LureSecure Lure Wraps - The Pro's Choice

And that’s really what this show was all about – spending time with family and friends, having a few laughs, and sharing the products, services, information, knowledge and expertise necessary to help create a lifetime of memories in the great outdoors.

If you missed this year’s show, don’t worry! Next year’s show is January 26-30 at the same location. If you’re an Exhibitor and you’d like to be part of the action, you might want to contact Jim Sugarman sooner than later, because next year’s show is going to be bigger and better than this year.

LIVE From The 31st Annual America’s Outdoor Fishing & Hunting Show

Aimee Argyle | Gary Talarico | Mrs. Mongo | Mike Argyle

Antique Boats & Motors

 This post comes to you from the floor of America’s Outdoor Fishing & Hunting Show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.  Team LureSecure is here in full force – Gary Talarico/Chief Fishfinder, MongoMad & his wife, Mike Argyle of ClearStream Concepts and Aimee Argyle of Northern Shores Realty, made the trip from northern Michigan and are manning the LureSecure booth.  Both Gary & Mike are not 100% (Gary’s dealing with pneumonia and Mike started this year with a herniated disk), but there was no way they were going to miss this show.  We also brought along a few of our friends to share the extensive booth space supplied to us by the show,  Also represented in the AnglerQuest booth are Jeff Wever of Dry Hands Minnow Buckets, Bay de Noc Lures, the Curtis Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and the Manistique Lakes Tourism Board

Wildlife Taxidermy Exhibit

If you’re a fisherman, hunter or just a person that loves the great outdoors, and you’re in the Chicagoland area, you owe it to yourself to attend this show.  Although in the last few years, when the show was under different management, it may have strayed from the path of being truly an outdoors show, the new owner, Jim Sugarman, has transformed it into one of this country’s finest fishing, hunting and outdoor shows.  It truly is “new” in many respects, with displays and activities you have to see to believe.  We discuss a few in this post, but there’s no way to do them all justice, so it’s worth a click to go check out the website for America’s Outdoor Fishing & Hunting Show

Bikini Ice Fishing Team Fashion Show

It’s Ladies Day today, and as this is being typed, the Bikini Ice Fishing Team is putting on a fashion show (and they’re each wearing Fish Fashion earrings).  Nearby is the always exciting Dangerous Reptile show and exhibit.  Earlier in the day there was a deer processing and venison preparation seminar, where the audience got to sample some fine fare that was prepared with the venison.

Deer Processing & Venison Preparation Seminar

Fetch-N-Fish

There are hunting dog demonstrations, fly and bait casting opportunities & competitions, archery demonstrations and competitions, a tent building contest, tons of activities for the kids, and it’s High School Fishing Team Day on Sunday.  If that wasn’t enough, the cool folks from Fetch-N-Fish brought in one of their 4,000 gallon mobile aquariums (complete with fish…BIG fish), which they use to put on a unique and humorous hunting dog show and a number of fishing technique demonstrations.  The Eddie Butts Band is entertaining attendees as they stroll the spacious aisles of the well-designed show space, checking out what dozens upon dozens of vendors have to offer, with ice cold beers and tasty eats in hand. 

Future Pro Having A Great Time!

The show’s advertising states “the fun is back”, and that’s truly the case.  Jim Sugarman and the show’s advisory board have put together one hell of a show, providing an entertaining and educational experience for all ages and interests.  You can hardly walk down the aisle without bumping into the likes of Babe Winkelman, Ted Takasaki, Dan Armitage, Lee Bailey Jr, Mike Iaconelli, Rick LaPoint, Dan Keating, Aaron McAlexander, Jack Penny, Darrell Baker, Spence Petros, and Jim Saric, just to name a few of the pro’s that are in attendance.  There are seminars galore and plenty of extremely helpful information is being shared. 

The “New” America’s Outdoor Fishing & Hunting Show is truly a top-notch show.  We’d like to thank Jim Grandt of Grandt Industries (makers of the finest custom fishing rods you’ll ever get your hands on), for making it possible for us to attend.  Business has been brisk at the LureSecure booth, and good for many of the other vendors.  Attendance continues to increase exponentially as we approach the weekend.  The show’s staff (including Jim Sugarman’s lovely wife ILona) is doing a tremendous job of keeping the show running smoothly, and making sure there are plenty of smiles on the faces of vendors and attendees alike. 

 

World Records Are On Display

So if you’re in Chicagoland, and you’re into hunting, fishing or anything that involves enjoying the great outdoors, and you’re wondering what you’re going to do this weekend, then look no further.  You need to stop in at America’s Outdoor Fishing & Hunting Show.  It’s well worth the small price of admission.

17th Annual Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show – Day 4 December 6, 2009

Aimee & I rolled out slow on this fine morn – it just felt like the kind of day you ease into. After all it was Sunday. Those devoted to the “religion” known as ice fishing were at the doors at 10 am, ready to check out all that was new in the industry, learn new techniques and run into their fellow parishioners.

We chose this day to walk around and check out what was being offered by our fellow show attendees, and make acquaintances with industry leaders and pro’s. We were amazed at the ingenuity, inventiveness, and usefulness of some of the products on hand at the show. We were well received by some of the established names in the business, and the pro’s were more than happy to spend time with us.

Gary Talarico/LureSecure | Ted Takasaki/Lindy

As Gary strolled the show floor, he took a few moments to introduce LureSecure Tackle Pouches and Lure Wraps to a few of the pro’s in attendance. Here he is trading fishing secrets with Ted Takasaki of Lindy Lures. Ted does a great job of representing Lindy and was definitely a presence at the show, demonstrating Lindy’s newest lures (like the Darter) and chatting it up with the masses.

Gary also spent a few minutes with one of the most well known pro’s in the business, Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, who was holding court at the Frabill area. Gary & Bro discussed LureSecures and the ice fishing industry for a short spell. It’s nice to be in an industry where the leaders in the sport are so accessible to the masses, and interested and willing to help them become better at the sport.

Action Trackchair

It never ceases to amaze me the innovation showcased in this industry, and this year was no exception. Tracked vehicles were big at this year’s show. Models from Arctic Cat, Polaris, and Kubota were being shown, just to name a few. Of these “vehicles” some of the most interesting were those from Action Trackchairs. These chairs are aimed at “helping the disabled to be enabled” and were obviously built for maximum mobility, durability and comfort. For some, vehicles like the Action Trackchair are the key to getting out in the field, deep into the woods or out & about in the winter.

In the area of fishing gear, I was most impressed with the Dry Hands Minnow Bucket, Illuminator lures from Herrick Tackle Corp, the Cobra Ice Rod system from Fish-A-Way LLC and the Ice Hole Warmer from Fishing Innovations.

Dry Hands Minnow Bucket

I’ve discussed the Dry Hands Minnow Bucket earlier, so suffice it to say it’s a unique method of dispensing minnows as you need them.

Illuminator

The Illuminators contain a water activated, micro-sized LED in a jig head covered in glow paint. If fish can’t find these lures, they’re blind.

Cobra Ice Rod

The Cobra Ice Rod combines interchangeable rods in various actions, all in a format that keeps your tackle off the ice, out of the water and prevents it from disappearing down your auger hole.

The Hole Warmer

Although I initially stopped by the Fishing Innovations booth for a picture to send to a friend, as I studied the Ice Hole Warmer I realized it was a great idea. It prevents your auger hole from icing over and comes in a compact package. Clearing slush buildup out of your holes is now a thing of the past.

Another unique product who’s time has come is The Biffy Bag, made my LEDO Environmental, LLC. Imagine, a compact, Personal Disposable Toilet System that provides the perfect solution to answering the call of nature without soiling the environment. It provides an odor-proof containment system, wiping materials and is partially biodegradable. The best part is, you don’t need a bucket, commode and any other equipment to use The Biffy Bag. It’s totally sanitary and convenient, thus keeping you hunting, fishing and outdoors longer, without contributing negatively to the environment.

These are just a few of the innovations I spotted at the show. There were so many useful, advanced and avant garde ideas I could go on for pages. One thing is for sure, the show and the products shown there were well-received by those who attended. It’s my understanding the show enjoyed record attendance. I know we did well, and the rumors on the show floor were some ice shelters, ice augers, rods, reels, lures and accessories had sold out. It just goes to show that in an economy where budgets are tight, people will still spend money on activities that require minimal investment, yet provide long-term, cost-effective leisure time with friends and family.

The show ended at 5 pm, which meant it was time for all attendees to tear down their booths, pack up it up and head for home. If you’ve ever worked a trade show, or anything like this, you know this part of the process can be bedlam. Doesn’t matter the show or the venue, there’s always tired souls, confusion aplenty and lots to do in very little time. To make the most of our time, Gary and the girls tore down and packed up the LureSecure booth, while Mongo and I grabbed the trailer and headed back to the River Centre.

Once there, however, we found ourselves amidst an unusual tangle of traffic. Just to make things interesting, there was the Jingle Ball, which was then to be followed by a Brad Paisley concert in the adjoining Xcel Energy Center. Young girls were running here and there after being dropped off by their parents, their parents were trying to get close to the auditorium (or get the hell out of there) and those of us from the Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show were trying to make our way into the loading dock area. You get the picture, it wasn’t pretty.

We finally got the trailer into position at the loading dock and packed it up in record time. We tucked the trailer away for the night and headed back to our rooms to relax. Another great meal and plenty of laughs were enjoyed at the Great Waters Brewery Co. that night. Then we tucked ourselves in for a good night’s rest. And we needed it, for the long trip home was ahead of us the next day.

All in all, the 17th Annual Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show in St. Paul, Minnesota was a great show. Our product launch for LureSecure Lure Wraps went well, we had a great time, and we got there and back safe and sound. I have no idea how long I slept the day after getting home.

17th Annual Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show – Day 3 December 5, 2009

I awoke finally feeling rested, and as we assembled after breakfast, I could tell we were all bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and ready for a full day at the Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show. Good thing too, because we were busy!

Notice His Unique Fishing Method & Location of His Tackle 🙂

Doors opened at 10 am and crowds streamed in consistently throughout the day. Being it was Kids Day, there were plenty of junior fishermen and families in attendance. We were most impressed with what the show organizers had done to help teach junior fisherman the joys and nuances of ice fishing. Some even got to catch a fish through the “ice” right there at the show!

LureSecure’s Lure Wraps sold well throughout the day. Folks were impressed with the ability to keep their tackle tangle free, and we heard more than our share of hook wound stories after demonstrating how LureSecures prevent that from happening. People loved hearing our products were made in the U.S., right there in St. Paul. Many were pleased to learn we utilized Rebuild Resources to manufacture our products, thus helping folks in recovery get their lives back together. It was apparent our goal of maximizing the benefits provided by our product was paying off – and not just for us.

Mongo | Kevin Byker | Chief Fishfinder

We were joined mid-afternoon by Kevin Byker of Rebuild Resources, and it was a pleasure to have him onboard. It’s not often the manufacturer of a product is on-hand to discuss the process, or just watch how his company’s handiwork is being received. What’s unique is that Kevin cares, and not just about bottom lines, but about what Rebuild Resources stands for and what it does for society and our economy. If you own a company or manufacture a product, you really need to contact Rebuild Resources and find our what they can do for you, and what they do for those that know the joy of a job, and another chance in life.

Sales were brisk for us on this day, and for good reason. Not only do we have a killer product, but we were handing out free Swedish Pimple and Do-Jigger lures provided by one of our show partners, Bay de Noc Lure Company. Ice fisherman know the proven ability of Bay de Noc lures to catch fish, and were more than curious to see what was available to accompany their purchase of LureSecure Lure Wraps.

Motion, activity and demonstration are the name of the game at a trade show. Sitting there in a chair or hiding behind a laptop is just a waste of your booth fee. It’s kind of like fishing – if you want fish to bite you need the right bait and it has to be provide action that entices interest and attention. This is especially true if you have an innovative product like the LureSecure, or the Dry Hands Minnow Bucket. Showing is always better than telling, and wrapping your hands around a lure without getting stuck, or rattling poles in a bucket without tangling the tackle, or rapidly and easily handling live minnows without dipping your hands into water on a frigid day and risking numb hands (or worse), gets peoples attention.

Mickey's Dining Car

Mrs. Mongo, Aimee and I took a break and headed off for cocktails. We decided on dinner at Mickey’s Dining Car after hearing so many good things about it. We weren’t disappointed – the burgers were fabulous and I had one of the lightest, fluffiest omelettes and some of the best homestyle hash browns I’ve ever had. If you’re in St. Paul, you really owe it to yourself to find out why food shows and celebrities make it a point to eat at this slice of Americana.

After a full day on our feet, the close of the show at 7 pm was a welcome relief. We grabbed a few beers, then we went to dinner at Hunan Garden. Easily some of the best Chinese I’ve ever had, and one of the best times I’ve ever had with a group of friends. We laughed our butts off, and our waitress was superb, and added to the fun (loved the “special” fortune cookies). Sleep definitely came easy this night.

17th Annual Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show – Day 2 December 4, 2009

Ouch….

It wasn’t a truck, but something definitely had left a mark – I was exhausted. What happened to the good ol’ days in college when I could pull all-nighters, party like an animal and live happily with a modicum of sleep? I never sleep well in hotel rooms, and this was definitely the case on this occasion. Oh well, nothing copious amounts of java couldn’t remedy. It took much of that just to become sentient again.

Mongo and Chief Fishfinder headed off to Rebuild Resources to pick up additional inventory, along with our banner and shirts (which we had them make). Mrs. Mongo, Aimee and I finished setting up our booth, and took a little time to meet our neighbors (Jeff of Dry Hands Minnow Buckets and the crew from Wolfpack Adventures).

Everything was going smoothly until we encountered the wifi setup for the convention. Between an l in our password (“is that an L or and I?”) and the security protocols put in effect by River Centre, we managed to immediately lock out one of our laptops from their network. Seems you get three access attempts and you’re done…and I mean DONE! Luckily their IT guys remedied the situation with a cabled Ethernet connection, and we provided the rest of the magic. Before long we had all our iPhones ready for transactions via iSwipe and Ring It Up. We were up & running, ready to do business and tweet live from the Show.

Our other hurdle for the day came when we realized Overnight Prints had dropped the ball on our business card order. Once I learned they hadn’t even begun processing our order, and that a nearby printer could meet their price and have our custom cards done in an hour, I cancelled my order with Overnight Prints. I’ve used them before without issue, but on this occasion, they really screwed up (searches on the internet reveal they’re inexpensive and provide great product, but you shouldn’t depend on them in a clutch). The team at Allegra Print & Imaging saved our asses, and they did so with competence, professionalism and a good sense of humor. Good thing Aimee found them during her lunch!

The doors opened at 1 pm, and for a Friday, attendance was decent. As folks got off work, the crowd continued to grow. We were pleased with the interest in our products. This was going to be a good show.

When dinner time rolled around, Mongo & Chief Fishfinder grabbed some killer grub at the world-famous Mickey’s Dining Car. When it was our turn, Aimee & I headed to Sakura for some great sushi. The show closed out at 9 pm, and we all crawled back to our rooms via St. Paul’s Skyway for some much deserved rest.

Once back in our comfy rooms, we reviewed the day. All agreed on many things, but two common threads emerged. The people of Minnesota are friendly as hell, take pride in their cities and enjoy their outdoor activities. The other thing we discussed was how impressed we were with St. Paul, and how cool it was that via the Skyway we could walk to the show, without ever going out into the cold. Those of us that did venture outdoors found the city clean and a joy to explore.

Rice Park - St. Paul, Minnesota

17th Annual Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show: Day 1 December 3, 2009

Off to the holylands we went, in the very wee hours of the morning. We were on a pilgrimage, to a place where ice fishing is a religion. We headed north and west, to Minnesota, packed to the gills with supplies, gear and inventory. We were about to spend the weekend with hordes of fellow ice fisherman at 17th Annual Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show.

For this journey to the ice fishing holylands, the LureSecure Team consisted of myself, Mike Argyle of ClearStream Concepts, my wife Aimee Argyle of Northern Shores Realty in Belliare, MI, “Mongo” & Mrs. Mongo of Petoskey, MI and Chief Fishfinder, Gary Talarico of AnglerQuest. Aimee & I rolled out the drive and into the snow at 3 am, so we could catch up with the Mongos and the “show trailer” on the northern side of the Mighty Mac Bridge. Gary, the lucky bastid, got to sleep in.

Frankly, I don’t remember much from the first couple hours of the trip. Despite my best efforts (and a benadryl) the night before, I didn’t sleep a wink. Once in the car, however, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I drifted in and out of usefulness, until the energy drink I guzzled kicked in….then I turned into a sleep-deprived idiot. To shut me up, and keep me out of trouble, Aimee handed over the driving duties once we met up with the Mongos.

We arrived at AnglerQuest Headquarters in Germfask well before dawn, where we loaded the trailer with remaining show items. Then we bid fond farewells to Gary’s wife, Kelly, and blasted off westward….into a typical Upper Peninsula snow flurry. Luckily the incoming storm was a few days away, so there wasn’t much snow to worry about. We had smooth sailing all the way to St. Paul, with mostly clear roads.


After roughly 13 hours on the road, we hit St. Paul, Minnesota at about 5 pm (including time change). It took us a bit to locate the entrance into River Centre, but once we did, we found the arrangements, facility and customer service top notch. The loading dock was indoors, so we didn’t have to unload outside in the elements. Luck was with us when we arrived – we were able to drive up, back in and unload.

Between four of us (Mongo handled truck & trailer logistics) the LureSecure booth went up efficiently and it looked great. Our corner location across from Clam Corp. and StrikeMaster Ice Augers, and near Frabill, was sure to provide us with plenty of traffic. The stage was set for a good show for LureSecure’s product launch. We checked into our rooms, had an excellent meal at Great Waters Brewing Co. and crashed HARD that night.