Outdoor enthusiasts and sportsman unite for April expo in Eagle | VailDaily.com

Outdoor enthusiasts and sportsman unite for April expo in Eagle

the idea of a outdoor expo — a showcase for all the things that fishermen, hunters, campers, bikers and other recreationalists need and want — isn't exactly revolutionary.

But the idea of hosting one where all those activities actually happen is. That's what makes the Western Colorado Outdoor & Sportsman's Expo special.

The event is planned April 6-8 at the Eagle River Center at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.

"The Western Slope of Colorado is home to a myriad of outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, camping, ATV riding, hiking, biking and more," notes the event website. "Those of us who live here recognize that these activities help to create the fabric of our amazing mountain lifestyle. We also recognize that visitors travel from all across the world to experience the beauty of our Western Colorado backcountry."

The town of Eagle is the expo's title sponsor and businesses, organizations and programs have already committed to booth space at the event.

"We feel that this event brings a much-needed opportunity to our community for our very active outdoor enthusiast to get their hands on the newest and coolest gear," said Jeremy Gross, Eagle special events coordinator. "I am excited for the variety of vendor opportunities for all sorts of sports."

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Gross noted that central Colorado has a long-standing reputation for providing some of the top big game hunting opportunities in the country. Additionally, the area's streams and rivers provide prime locale for fisherman. The expo will celebrate and promote those traditional pursuits while also expanding into many other recreational opportunities that are bringing people to Colorado.

"We get set in our ways in a lot of our activities. This expo will open our eyes and broaden our views about what is available on the Western Slope," Gross said.

Building bonds

Along with the various vendor booths, the expo will also feature numerous educational opportunities. Wilderness Workshop, a 50-year-old organization that has served as a conservation watchdog for nearly 3 million acres of public lands in Western Colorado, was one of the first groups to sign up as an expo exhibitor.

According to Wilderness Workshop Executive Director Sloan Shoemaker, there is a natural relationship between outdoors enthusiasts and the organizations that work to preserve wilderness. For instance, he noted that the White River National Forest is home to one of the largest populations of elk in the nation.

"If you don't have habitat, you don't have an available population of huntable elk and deer," Shoemaker said. "Our organization is about conserving public land with a particular emphasis on wildlife."

Shoemaker said the expo will help forge bonds between sportsmen and conservation groups based on their mutual interests.

"We might not all use the land in the same ways, but there is certainly shared interest in preservation of public lands," he said. "I wish the event organizers luck. Hopefully people sign up and attend and it becomes an overwhelming success."

Reaching a target audience

Just as Shoemaker hopes to get out the word regarding his organization's message, other vendors hope to reach a target audience of expo attendees. Paul Roach, of Humphrey RV of Grand Junction and Montrose, is excited about getting the company's products in front of people who are likely customers.

"It's the first time that we have had the opportunity to bring a big display or our products at an event between Denver and Grand Junction," Roach said. "We will have the ability to showcase every facet of our recreational options … to the people who use them the most."

Roach promised a display that features everything that's new in the recreational vehicle scene. "In the past couple of years, the recreational vehicle industry has changed dramatically," Roach said.

Those changes include smart RVs that have boast high-end phone applications in everything from 15-foot RVs that can be pulled by a Surbaru to 45-foot fifth wheels that include luxurious living quarters and 12-foot rolling garage space for toys such as ATVs, jet skis, motorcycles and more.

"We will be bringing top-of-the-line, industry-best gear up there," Roach said.

For additional information or to sign up, visit WestCoExpo.com.