Outdoor Expo a Hit; Second Planned for 2009

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Outdoor Expo a Hit; Second Planned for 2009PIERRE, S.D.—Successful outdoor excursions usually take planning. The same was true of South Dakota’s first-ever Outdoor Expo. More than two years of planning culminated in a weekend event in May at the State Fairgrounds in Huron that introduced more than 4,000 visitors to the wonders of the outdoors.

“Our mission was to reach out to families and introduce them to outdoor recreation activities,” said Chuck Schlueter, communications manager for the S.D. Game, Fish and Parks Department, one of the organizers of the expo. “We accomplished that mission with a wealth of hands-on exhibits designed to help folks get a taste of what outdoor activities are like.”

The S.D. Agriculture Department and the State Fair staff led a partnership of state and federal agencies, outdoors-oriented organizations and private businesses that provided a variety of hands-on activities ranging from kayaking and mountain biking to shooting bows and arrows and BB guns. Displays offered free information and samples as well as items for sale.

“More than 100 businesses, organizations, agencies and individuals stepped forward to for the first Outdoor Expo and we’re sure that we can build on this success and have even more participation in the second annual event,” Schlueter said.

Not surprisingly, some of the most popular activities were kayaking, archery and the Live Bat Encounter.

Ninety-four percent of those attending rated their overall experience as good or excellent. And almost 90 percent said they were likely or very likely to attend next year’s S.D. Outdoor Expo. More than half of this year’s attendees tried a new activity with kayaking and archery listed as the most common new activities.

One attendee said, “If anyone missed the South Dakota Outdoor Expo, they really missed something very educational, fun and free! There was just so much to do and learn. I will tell everyone I know to go next year!”

Planning has already started for the 2009 Outdoor Expo, including the possibility of moving the event to a weekend in June. The second Outdoor Expo will be special as it will serve as the cornerstone of the Game, Fish and Parks Department’s centennial celebration.

Major sponsors of the free Outdoor Expo were Wildlife Protection Inc., The Weatherby Foundation, Spader’s RV Center, the S.D. Parks and Wildlife Foundation, the S.D. Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Scheels and the S.D. B.A.S.S. Federation.

Agencies, businesses, organizations and individuals interested in taking part in next year’s Outdoor Expo should contact the S.D. State Fair Office at (605) 353-7340.