By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer
The Tampa Tribune 17th Outdoors Expo & Boat Show hosted by Frank Sargeant kicks off this Friday, Feb. 29, and runs through Sunday, March 2. This is Florida’s largest outdoors expo, as well its most diverse and educational. The event is a kind of a world's fair for anglers, boaters, hunters, campers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors.
As always, the Expo will feature entertainment as well as continuous hands-on, how-to presentations from a variety of outdoors experts, a shopping extravaganza, and a boat show in a family-friendly, country-fair atmosphere.
The Expo boasts 140,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space plus outdoor display areas and several lakes. This year’s Expo will include its largest number of boat dealers ever and more than 150 vendors.
Whether your passion is boating, saltwater or freshwater fishing, cast netting, fly fishing, hunting, dog training or kayaking, the Tampa Tribune Expo won’t disappoint you.
Tampa Tribune outdoors editor Frank Sargeant serves as the Expo’s official host. A past president of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and author of more than a dozen books, Sargeant is one of Florida’s most popular and respected outdoors communicators.
"The Expo has something for everyone," says Sargeant, "from the smallest angler, to teens, to mom and dad. We’ll have an amazing selection of seminars, outdoors activities and merchandise."
Fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh returns this year for his second Expo appearance. One of the world’s foremost authorities on fly fishing and fly casting, the affable Kreh will appear twice daily. Kreh’s genial humor and wealth of information on fly casting, photography and knot tying are reason enough to make the trip. We don’t often get the chance to be instructed by a living legend.
Among the new additions will be Curt "The Bassmeister" Strutz. In "Fishing for Laughs," Strutz teaches children about fishing and water safety. Although geared to younger audiences, Strutz promises loads of laughs for the entire family. The Bassmeister will perform his combination educational seminar/puppet show three times daily.
Another new presenter this year will be the All About Grills Stage. Chef Keith Pouliot will demonstrate how to filet and cook whole fresh water fish, how to prepare and grill wild game and will offer tips on how to prepare a champagne dinner on a beer budget using fresh fish and wild game.
Additional seminars will include a wide range of topics, including virtually all fishing subjects. Sarasota’s Captain Rick Grassett, DOA inventor and fishing phenom Captain Mark Nichols, Tampa’s own Captain Bill Miller, Bradenton’s snook charmer Captain Scott Moore and many more of the industry’s top names will be on hand to instruct and entertain.
The Devore Labradors Kennel returns with demonstrations on pointing and retrieving as well as a variety of dog training tips. Cast net demonstrations, virtual fishing, rock climbing and a number of special giveaways are also on the agenda.
Kids can participate in the Fishing Derbies staged by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, as well as other hands on outdoor activities.
Admission to the Expo is free for all ages on Friday, courtesy of your Southern Ford Dealers, and free every day for kids age 12 and under. Admission for ages 13 and up is only $8 on Saturday and Sunday. Parking at the fairgrounds is $5. Show hours are 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The state fairgrounds is located east of Tampa near the junction of I-4 and I-75. For more information, visit the event Web site at www.TBO.com (keywords: Outdoors Expo).