The 17th Annual St. Paul Ice Fishing & Winter Sport Show, which took place last weekend at the St. Paul RiverCentre, boasted increased attendance and record sales among local and regional ice anglers ready to get back on the ice with new gear and techniques. The show, sponsored by Camping World, hosted over 160 exhibitors, more than any other year in the show’s 17-year history.
Regional show manager Vilma Fraguada reported a 22% increase in attendance over last year’s show. “The response from both exhibitors and attendees was overwhelming,” said Fraguada. “Show attendees were excited about the upcoming ice fishing season and that really showed. Several exhibitors reported record-breaking sales at the show and many had to make several trips to restock merchandise over the weekend.”
Josh Roundsley of Thorne Bros., a longtime exhibitor with the show, is a perfect example of the show’s success. “This was, hands-down, one of our best shows ever,” said Roundsley. “There were lots of great new products on display and the attendees were excited for another fun season coming up.” Roundsley and the rest of the Thorne Bros. staff is busy preparing to head to Syracuse, N.Y., to exhibit in the 2nd annual Syracuse Ice Fishing Show this weekend, another show produced by Affinity Events.
John Nelson, a sales manager for Thorne Bros., was able to show the public that ice fishing can be a fun and affordable family activity on Sunday morning when he spoke with anchors on KSTP’s channel 5 Sunday Morning newscast live from the show floor. With all the products Nelson discussed, a family new to the sport could get on the ice for under $300.
Coates RV exhibited at the show for the first time, debuting its Forest River Inc. Ice Cabin, a towable RV for ice fishing, in the Minnesota market. Dan Mouch, a sales manager with Coates, reported excellent results. “The show was the perfect place to debut the new Ice Cabins,” he said. “It allowed show visitors to see, touch and compare them to other houses.”
Mouch and the rest of the Coates sales team were able to sell several Ice Cabins at the show and have already received several follow-up customers interested in making a purchase. “We will definitely be back next year,” said Mouch.
Another great draw at this year’s show was the presence of well-known ice fishermen Dave Genz, Jeff Gustafson, Jason Mitchell, Scott Peterson and “Tackle Terry” Tuma. All gave informative, insightful presentations on ice fishing techniques and tips for a record season of fishing to standing-room-only crowds.
The success of the show came at no surprise to those who love to ice fish. Expenditures in the ice fishing equipment category in 2006 jumped 27% from 2001. This increase in spending can be attributed to the avid anglers willing to spend more on the latest equipment as well as a rise in the number of ice fishing product manufacturers. Although the current economic climate has been a challenge for the recreation industry as a whole, ice fishing has remained popular, as it is a low-cost alternative to many other winter recreation activities.
Affinity Events will welcome ice fishing enthusiasts in the Northeast to get ready for the season this coming weekend at the 2nd Annual Syracuse Ice Fishing Show, sponsored by Camping World. Held at the Oncenter Convention Center, the show will feature a variety of local and national ice fishing products and services along with expert advice and entertainment.
Affinity Group Inc. is parent company of Affinity Events and RVBUSINESS.COM.