Northwest Sportshow wraps up in Minnesota

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The new manager of the Northwest Sportshow says the long-standing Midwestern show that ended Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center had some changes, but still featured plenty of attractions to entice attendees.

“No waterskiing squirrels this year,’’ Darren Envall told the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. “But we do have John Godwin of ‘Duck Dynasty’ and the ‘Swampmaster’ — Jeff Quattrocchi — with his Gator Show.”

Envall, who is at the show’s helm for the first time, was responsible for filling more than 300,000 square feet of Convention Center exhibitor space while ensuring that tens of thousands of winter-weary visitors trip the show’s turnstiles.

The annual springtime spectacle has been going on since 1932, when F.W. (Nick) Kahler founded it, making the show the nation’s longest-running outdoor extravaganza held indoors, the Star Tribune said.

Headquartered for decades at the old Minneapolis Auditorium before showcasing its wares for three years in the Metrodome while the Convention Center was being built, the Northwest Sportshow is where Rapala fishing lures first tantalized American anglers, where Minnesotans initially stared wide-eyed at Carl Lowrance’s “Green Box’’ depth finder and fish locator, where Alumacraft boats, developed in 1946 in Minneapolis, were first floated, and where the Eppinger Dardevle was popularized in Minnesota as a fish-catching machine.

The show is now owned by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which bought the show from Dave Perkins in 2004. Perkins had, in turn, bought it from his dad, Phil, in 1985. Phil Perkins had bought it from Kahler in 1967.

The show this year featured 487 exhibitors, some of whom have traveled from the plains of Africa and the wilds of Alaska to strut their stuff.

“A big part of the Sportshow is exposing yourself to new customers,’’ said Jay Schelde of Pike Bay Lodge. “But it’s also an important place to visit with existing clients. And the show is a good place to network with other resort owners, and to meet fishing tackle representatives. The Sportshow is where we buy our rods and reels each year.’’

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