I have a special code for you to get into the hottest sport show for outdoor folk in the first quarter of 2014. This code (KH9FB) will save you six bucks at the ticket booth. Such a deal! You may be wondering whether this show is within reach where you live. It is, I promise. How can I be so confident when this vast audience spans the continent? Because this is a Vexpo (virtual exposition) called the North American Sportshow; you attend online via your Internet browser.

While you don’t get to actually crawl in and out of new (or used) boats at this Vexpo, you do get a lot of the same great benefits of attending our favorite cabin-fever activity of late winter and early spring, like perusing the aisles of a sport show. There are tons of show specials (available only to the show attendees). You’ll explore the hottest new products from both big, influential companies in the fishing tackle world, but also small, nimble companies with cutting-edge, unique products. There are great resorts and tourism displays to entice you to a fantastic fishing destination for your next vacation.

You could win a Ranger Boat or dozens of prizes in show giveaways, like a fly-in fishing trip to Canada or a weekend at a resort in Lake of the Ozarks. Plus, there are discounts galore that will more than justify the small ticket fee to get in.

Approximately 100 companies—big and small—have booth space in the show.
Approximately 100 companies—big and small—have booth space in the show.

The show runs now through April 7, 2014 and is open 24/7. One ticket is all you need to attend as many times as you prefer. You don’t have to worry about bad weather, family commitments, work schedules, football playoff game conflicts, proximity to where you live, or expensive “event” parking ramp fees adjacent to the convention center.

The Vexpo concept is the brainchild of fishing industry veteran David Gray. Over the last 30 years, Gray has been involved in several companies in the fishing and marine industries. A partial list includes Ardent Reels and Carbon-X Rods, as well as retail tackle and marine storefronts. He is an avid outdoorsman himself, and he claims to know the hearts and minds of kindred spirits: die-hard fishermen.

“If there’s one thing I know, it is what a serious angler wants,” said Gray from his home in the Kansas City area of Missouri. “We want to know what’s new, what’s hot and get our hands on show specials. We want a chance, a good chance, to win free tackle and products, especially a chance to win a great new boat like a Ranger Boat. We built all of this into the Vexpo experience in the North American Sportshow.”

David Gray is an avid fisherman, an industry veteran, and the creator of the Vexpo concept with the North American Sportshow.
David Gray is an avid fisherman, an industry veteran, and the creator of the Vexpo concept with the North American Sportshow.

Gray pulled a quality team together to build the Vexpo, including Jim Besenfelder selling exhibit sponsorships. That’s why top-quality companies like G. Loomis, Eagle Claw, Yamaha, Eppinger, Rapala, Frabill, Plano, Yakima, Gene Larew, Garmin, Mann’s Bait, Marcum, St. Croix Rods, Motorguide, Northland Tackle, Ranger Boats, Rebel, Salmo, Strike King, Sufix, Uncle Josh, VMC, Yum, Luhr Jensen, Fishouflage, Clam Outdoors, and Alumacraft have booth space, to name just a few.

While the exhibitor list is strong, it will only grow in future years as this new concept comes of age. Think back to the first electronics, and how far technology developed over the years as more people valued innovation. The same will happen with the Vexpo. More investment in the show will continue to make the virtual experience better and better in future years. Just look how far video games have come.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have a booth in this Vexpo for my books. I guess I am a believer, as is David Gray and Jim Besenfelder, that if you build it, they will come.

Ticket prices are $10 and $15, but with the code KH9FB you can get the $15 registration option for $9.

“Anglers will attend and will tell their friends,” said Gray. “I hope everyone will enjoy the show. It was hard work and years in the making, but I’m proud of the first vexpo for attendees.”

K.J. Houtman is the author of the award-winning Fish On Kids Books series, chapter books for eight- to 12-year-olds with adventures based around fishing, camping, and hunting. Her work is available at Amazon and local bookstores. Find out more at fishonkidsbooks.com.

Images courtesy North American Sportshow

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