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Florida Sportsman Fishing Show coming to Lee Civic Center

By Staff | Jan 27, 2016

One of the Lee Civic Center’s oldest events is described as a “three-ring circus” for anglers, boaters and hunters. A closer analogy might be Disney World.

The 24nd annual Florida Sportsman Fishing Show returns this weekend, featuring continuous seminars, casting ponds, kid’s events, a hands-on rigging table, free fly- and net-casting lessons, the newest line-up of boats and exhibits by the Florida Wildlife Commission.

“It’s got anything to do with hunting, fishing, boating, we have RVs. If you do it outdoors, it will be here,” said Dave East, who helps run the shows.

The show started in 1993 and is one of three that Florida Sportsman, one of the largest magazines in the state, holds annually. The others are in Tampa and Fort Pierce.

“It started as just a fishing show and has grown over the years. We used to do seven shows, but it got to be too much. We picked our three best areas where we have really good shows,” East said.

Depending on the weather, East said between 5,000 and 7,500 come for the weekend. The worse the weather, the better the attendance.

Jacob Middleton, event coordinator at the civic center, said this will be a great family show.

“As long as the weather is good, it is a mostly indoors show, it tends to draw a large crowd. We’ve had it for a long time and it’s been a great partnership between the civic center and Florida Sportsman,” Middleton said.

The show will feature the large boats, RVs and a 3D archery tournament outside, while inside will be where much of the action is.

More than 100 vendors will be there to sell bait and tackle, rods and reels, lures, hunting equipment and for the first time guns, as well as an indoor casting pond and archery area for people who love the bow and arrow. There will also be special deals for people who attend the show.

For kids there is casting pond, face painting, games, prizes and a free poster.

But the biggest attraction is the seminars, which run five at a time every hour. There are onshore, offshore, angler on foot, kayak and hunting seminars that run all day on five different stages, East said.

“People who come tend to stay most of the day because there are 25 seminars a day and you can’t go to all of them,” East said. “They’ll stay for three or four seminars and walk the show in-between.”

The show runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $8 with kids 12 and under admitted free, and parking in $5. You can go online to www.floridasportsman.com and get a coupon for a $2 discount.

For more information, go to www.leeciviccenter.com.