By Steven Penn
The Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show came to the Indiana State Fairgrounds Feb. 15 and wrapped up Sunday,concluding its 59th year here.
The show features 600,000 square-feet of one-of-a-kind outdoor attractions and two distinct consumer expositions.
Anchoring the opening weekend, Feb. 15 to 17, was the Indiana Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl Expo, while the Indiana Motorcycle Expo took place during the last weekend, Feb. 22 to 24.
Those who attended the show had plenty of options on how to spend their time.
One highlight was The Boat Pavilion, which covered 180,000 square-feet and offered deals on the latest watercraft.
Another option was the 150,000 square-foot RV Pavilion, which showcased the newest motorhomes and travel trailers.
Fishermen of all ages and skill levels could stock up on the latest gear in the 70,000 square-foot Tackle Town, which has consistently been one of the main attractions each year.
Show organizer Kevin Renfro urged families to take advantage of all the options the show offered.
“We have hundreds of unique exhibitors folks can talk with about all manner of outdoor products and services,” Renfro said. “They’re the true backbone of our show ... but our constantly evolving lineup of exciting, informative, and educational features and attractions represents the icing on the cake.”
Dan Forst, with Renfro Productions’ media relations, said exact attendance numbers aren’t released, but he felt the show was a success.
“They don’t release a total attendance — they never do — we won’t know the exact crowd for a few weeks or so, but every day seemed to
have really good participation and the vendors seemed happy,” he said. “It seemed to go really well ... It’s too early to know how to compare it to other years, but I mean the crowd seemed really solid just about every day of the show.”
Forst said the show featured more than 600 booths and was spread out in six buildings this year, due to renovations to the Pepsi Coliseum.
“Because the coliseum is down this year ... the size of the show didn’t decrease because we found some empty space we could use
for storage,” he said.
Forst said the sluggish economy doesn’t have as much of an effect on the show as one might think.
“The crowds have actually stayed pretty consistent over the last five or six years, even back through 2008 when the market crashed,” he said. “Through the ups and downs of the economy ... the crowds stayed actually pretty consistent. Right now, the crowd this year seemed really, really good.”
He added that they’re already looking ahead to next year.
“It continues to grow, it continues to innovate and we’re looking forward to next year,” he said.