It is part of the National Hunting and Fishing Days event, but other states will be hard pressed to match the level of interest in West Virginia's festivities. This year's expo is scheduled Sept. 28-29 at Stonewall Resort State Park in Lewis County.
The weekend is one of the largest outdoors celebrations in the Eastern United States, attracting approximately 20,000 hunting and fishing enthusiasts. Krista Snodgrass, coordinator of the activities for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, says the event is getting bigger each year.
"This is a great family event," she said. "It is part of our tradition and this is an opportunity to celebrate our heritage. It's a great time for people who like the outdoors to get together and talk about what's going on. The attendance grows each year because people just keep coming back year after year.
"We like it that you can see it being passed down from one generation to another," Snodgrass said. "Seeing the parents and grandparents out there on the shooting range or the archery range passing these traditions on to the kids – that's really what it's all about."
The Outdoor Youth Challenge takes place both days. Kids ages 6-18 may participate and be eligible to win prizes such as a lifetime hunting and fishing license, conservation camp scholarships and sporting goods such as fishing gear.
"We had 1,300 kids participating or competing (their choice) last year in the Outdoor Youth Challenge," she said.
Returning is bow and arrow expert Bryan Ferguson with his popular archery exhibition. New for this year will be the Gould Brothers with their shooting demonstration. West Virginia's Curtis Fleming of the Fly Rod Chronicles television show will make an appearance from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Sept. 29.
"We try to add something new and exciting every year," Snodgrass said. "It's very entertaining to watch these experts perform. They put on a great show."
The weekend features more than 100 vendors with hunting, fishing and conservation related merchandise and information.
"The vendors will have clothes, equipment ammo … anything related to hunting and fishing," she said.
Staff from the DNR Wildlife Resources, law enforcement and parks sections will be available to meet with visitors and demonstrate some of the techniques to protect wildlife and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities.
Related activities include sporting dogs, care and cooking of fish and game, air rifle, shotgun and black powder shooting, wildlife painting, 3-D archery competitions, primitive camping, knife and tomahawk throwing, raptor seminars, deer field dressing and skinning demonstrations and computer simulations.
Admission is $6 for adults. Children 15 and under are admitted free. Call 304-558-2771 for information.