Southern Sportsman’s Festival & Expo Wrap-Up
What an experience the inaugural Southern Sportsman’s Festival & Expo was in August. Sure, an expo of outdoorsman stuff isn’t a new concept but, this was so much more than just an expo, it was truly a festival atmosphere that just happened to have an expo as one piece of the puzzle! Let us take you back to a day at the festival: As you walk through the gates the first thing that hits you is live music on the Bud Light Music Stage, real live bands from all over New Orleans rocking out on a full blown festival stage. There are picnic tables complete with umbrellas to sit and enjoy the bands while you enjoy food or a beverage. Then the food, oh the food! There are brats to the NOLA schnitzel, Philly cheesesteaks to Italian sausage, not to forget pizza, snowballs and a huge selection of beers (Bud, Bud Light & Michelob Ultra but also some great local microbrews like Tin Roof, Canebrake, Bayou Teche & Sweet Water). They also have some cooking samples coming from the Big Green Egg cooker…the ceramic grill, oven, smoker…who knew you could make pizza on a grill?? As you walk past Tough Sheds, outdoor equipment, motorhomes and other vendors, you come to the Super Chevy Dealers display for their off-road ride & drive. After filling out a quick form and taking a breathalyzer you can pick which vehicle you would like to test drive: a loaded Silverado, a loaded Tahoe or a loaded Suburban. The drive takes you down the side of the Alario Center and back behind the pond where you leave the parking lot and head on to the off-road course. The course winds around the field and includes some speed bumps, twists, and turns through a small ravine. What a great opportunity to take a test drive in a Chevy vehicle and have some off-road fun at the same time! As you walk back into the Alario Center the expo area started in Hall C with of course the festival’s presenting sponsor the Super Chevy Dealers. A couple more cars are in display inside and Chevy is offering free baseball hats for taking their survey. Behind Chevy are an airboat, an off road vehicle and the Lucky 7 Charters truck. This is a large space that includes a very cool indoor archery shooting range by Westbank Archery. Images are projected on the back wall of this tunneled shooting area, which is great for outdoors folks of all ages. Around the corner from them is a very large display from Marsh & Magazine and Marsh & Bayou Outfitters in the Quarter. One pretty unique item is DryTunes, a wireless speaker system that was built into a waterproof/floatable case which is perfect for valuables and things that need to stay dry. Across the aisle from them is a huge fish tank (we’re talking 1,600 gallons of water – huge!) from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries that contained all kinds of fish that are found throughout Louisiana waters. Another thing in Hall C that is really unique is a boat from Carry All Boats. Around New Orleans I can just say it’s like a “Higgins Boat” and most people will know what I mean; the front lowers down allowing you to roll a 4-wheeler right out of your boat on to land. Pretty great idea! Next up are the Boy Scouts who brought along their pinewood derby track – what kid doesn’t enjoy the old pinewood derby! Even us big kids had to grab a car and launch it down the track. Before we exit Hall C there is the seminar stage with lectures from the Louisiana School of Bushcraft, the Survival Post, and Capt. Chad Daigle of Lucky 7 Charters. Walking into Hall B, it’s a sea of four wheelers. The first ones that catch your eye are some shiny orange Kubotas from Lee Tractor (our Kubota zero mower came from them too). Some of the highlights of Hall B include Ducks Unlimited with their Great Gun Giveaway and their video shooting game, a great display from Decoy Buddy, dock manufactures, and everything from fishing lures to camo outerwear and boots. Blackwater Barrel company is displaying beautiful furniture made from reclaimed wine barrels. Photographer Joshua Lee has a very nice display (you might remember his great photo of his used in the beginning of the SSF&E TV commercials of a camp on a bayou with a motorboat passing. That image is also at the top of this page). And who could ever walk out of Hall B without a paper cone of German roasted nuts from Martin (aka. The Nutman)? The smell just teases you as you walk around Hall B. Our entire staff succumbed to the smell on a daily basis. Working with these producers was really a great experience. The festival was a year in the making and there was so much work going on behind the scenes here for a long time leading up to the event. A lot of other Jefferson Parish departments came in to help us including General Services, Parkways, Streets and even the Drainage helped get the pond cleaned up. We thank all of them for their support. Next summer the Southern Sportsman’s Festival & Expo jumps back a month on the calendar to allow the scheduling for more of the vendors to participate. Look for the Southern Sportsman’s Festival at the Alario Center, July 10-12, 2015.