The Omaha Boat, Sports and Travel Show runs from Thursday to Sunday at CenturyLink Center Omaha
Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Preview Day)
Friday, noon to 9 p.m. (Corporate Day)
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Kids Day)
Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Family Day)
Find more information here.
Dick Johnson bills the Omaha Boat, Sports and Travel Show as the "Granddaddy of 'em All."
The show, which opens Thursday at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, is one of the oldest outdoor shows in the Midwest, and this year the show turns 65.
"It's reached official grandpa status," said Johnson of Cox/Johnson Corp. of Omaha, the show's producer.
But this grandpa isn't retiring to the porch, not with 25,000-plus people stopping by over four days in search of guides and lodges, boats, recreational vehicles and entertainment for the family.
"It's all under one roof," Johnson said. "Whether you're shopping for a boat or RV, or a fisherman or hunter planning a trip of a lifetime, the dealers and travel exhibitors are primed with tremendous prices."
About 100 RVs and seemingly countless boats will be on display. More than 200 travel exhibitors will provide information about vacation destinations.
Johnson said the show is designed to appeal to families and people of all ages. Entertainment includes a menagerie of kangaroos, ducks, dogs, fish and exotic birds, plus lumberjacks and professional hunters and anglers.
A favorite attraction is the Great American Duck Race. Kids are selected from the crowd to release the ducks.
"You cannot watch a duck race without smiling. It's impossible," said Robert Duck of Albuquerque, N.M., who sold his jewelry business in 1999 and went into duck-racing full-time.
"I love to watch the reaction of kids," Robert Duck said. "It's the first time that most of them have ever been that close to a duck."
The Great Smoky Mountain Lumberjack Show features men who scramble up 50-foot poles, send wood chips flying with ax blows, demolish a log with a chain saw or engage in log-rolling competitions.
Oklahoman Chuck Deveraux and his aquarium-like Bass Tubs will provide an up-close look at how largemouth bass strike various lures. The lures don't have hooks, but that doesn't matter to the fish, Johnson said.
Youngsters and adults can catch rainbow trout in a fishing tank. Exhibitor Dick Hanson said he enjoys spotting youngsters who have never fished and offering them personal attention.
"We've found that 85 percent of inner-city kids have had no contact with the outdoors," Hanson said. "They're real interested in learning ... and we try to get them involved."
There's more fun when a youngster steps in front of a monitor and picks up a rod at Hanson's fishing simulator.
"Some people are a little reluctant to fish with a TV set," he said. "But I like to get in front of them with a video camera and take a picture of their faces as soon as that fish hits the line.
Eyes light up and smiles cross faces. Then come the giggles.
Nationally known outdoorsmen will present seminars on walleye fishing, ice fishing, panfish, Alaska big-game hunting, white-tailed deer behavior, dog training and marine electronics.
Tommy Skarlis of Waukon, Iowa, who has earned more than $1 million on the professional walleye tournament circuit, heads the seminar speakers.
Other speakers include Alaska hunting guide Billy Molls, Minnesota ice fisherman Terry Tuma, Maryland deer biologist and bowhunter C.J. Winand and Minnesota walleye pro Bruce "Doc" Sampson, an authority on marine electronics.
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