I have been going to the Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show since I was very young. This year is its 64th annual show beginning Feb. 16 and running through Feb. 25. I have been to more than 60 of these and maybe all of them. I can’t remember for sure about the ones back before I was 10 years old. However many years I have attended, a lot of good memories have started there.
Probably the show which made the biggest impact on my life was back in 1970. We talked to the owners of Big Canon Lake Lodge, near Vermillion Bay, Ontario. We booked a trip to the camp for that summer. It was a boat-in, fly-in camp, no roads. Great place, great people. My brother, dad and I went again in 1971. I took my new wife, Susie, in 1972 and exposed her to the great outdoors there. (She was a city girl.)
The camp went up for sale in ’76, and my brother bought it. Of course, we returned there every year for the 20 years or so he owned it. He retired from the camp business then but still lives in Kenora in northwest Ontario. We still return to that area to hunt and fish.
Another great place we visited was Wytheville, Virginia. We talked with folks from the local tourism bureau at the sport show and scheduled a trip to their area. Lots of fun activities, gorgeous scenery and lots of super dining spots. My big memory from that visit was when our local guide took us out to the nearby Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. I was so impressed with the stories about this more-than-2,000-mile trail that I hiked it — in both directions. (Of course, I only hiked about 100 yards in each direction!)
Tennessee is always well represented at the February show. Many years ago, we visited the booth for Blue Bank Resort. (Ask for Billy.) Since that time, Susie and I have booked a trip at Blue Bank many times, both to fish and hunt. They also have outstanding food in the area and lots of it.
Alabama always has a huge display that brings back happy memories. North Alabama Mountain Lakes is an area we have visited often. We saw the dismalites in the Dismals Canyon, shopped at Unclaimed Baggage, fished Weist Lake in the eastern part of the state and Wheeler, Pickwick and others in the west. The Rattlesnake Saloon is a unique eating spot that we never miss when we are in the area. And, the Coon Dog Cemetery is famous. Visit the Alabama booth at the show and ask about these attractions and more.
Sanibel Island in southwest Florida always has a display at the Indy show. We checked out their information, booked a trip to the area and made a lifelong friend with Shelley, one of the area reps. We explored the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, dined on great food at a bunch of the local restaurants and chartered a shelling boat to Caya Costa. We visited in early spring and were the only visitors there. The guide took us to the island where we walked the beach picking up numerous, large, undamaged shells until we couldn’t carry any more.
I can’t remember all the fishing charters around the country and many from Lake Michigan that we booked from our trips to the Indy show. Several of our outings to Canada began there.
If you want to start your own memories, check out the 64th Annual Ford Indianapolis Boat, Sport, and Travel Show at the Indy fairgrounds. It starts on Friday, Feb. 16, and runs from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day. It continues through Sunday, Feb. 25. The event spreads out over five different buildings and includes, boats, RV’s, Tackle Town, seminars and demos. Of course, you need to visit my favorite part of the show, Travel & Tourism, which will have more than 160 exhibitors from 25 states and Canada.
The 27th Indianapolis Motorcycle Expo runs the first three days of the big show, and the always-popular Deer, Turkey, & Waterfowl Expo happens on the last four days. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18; noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25. Go to www.renfroproductions.com for more details.
I plan on attending three or four days of the show, so if you look around, you might see me.
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