How to Get the Most Out of a Sportsmen’s Show

26 Feb

This month I had the singular experience of spending 55 hours out of a week in the Portland Expo Center in Oregon. No, I’m okay. Thanks for asking, though.

This was part of an annual trek to Portland for the PNW Sportsmen’s Show. During the five days of this show, the Expo Center houses hundreds upon hundreds of booths advertising guided trips, equipment, books, and about ninety different varieties of beef jerky. To translate into terms this blog has become accustomed to, people go to Sportsmen’s Shows for the same reasons people go to comic conventions:

  • To connect with like-minded people
  • To learn about new developments in the industry
  • To spend $11.99 on a single soft pretzel because the lack of vitamin D is having its way with your good sensibilities

My personal reason for attending was that my dad was running a booth and we agreed five days in this manner was a bit much for one person. Now hear this, I knew what I was getting into. I’ve been to dozens of Sportsmen’s Shows and I spent the full 5 days in the booth last year as well.

The show is massive, friendly, and it offers a diverse amount of booths to cater to every outdoor interest. Hunting, fishing, hiking, you name it. It’s also a lot, and that’s the best way I can put it as someone who can not handle a lot. It’s a lot of sweaty people in one place looking for an excuse to tell you about that kokanee fishing trip they went on last summer.

Thousands of people attend the Sportsmen’s Show in Portland every year, but, sadly, it doesn’t mean that they all have the best experience that they can have. You know what I call that? I mean, familiar, but also – a darn shame.

Let’s fix this.

How to get the Most Out of a Sportsmen’s Show

  1. Get the map at the doorImage result for reading a map gif

What’s that? You have a great sense of direction? That’s the devil talking. How do you think you’re gonna find That One Guide’s booth again once you wander away? Ask different guides in different booths? Haha, sure you will, you awful jerk. Don’t do that. Get the map. Read the map.

Image result for gravity falls snacks thompson gif

  1. Bring snacks

To be fair, this is against the rules. On the record: don’t bring snacks. Bring $36 so you can buy three soft pretzels instead. This has been my official and legal statement.

  1. Pet the dogsImage result for petting dog ghibli gif

People don’t bring their dogs to the show because their dogs ask to come along. They bring their dogs because they love their dogs and want other people to see how lovable said dogs are. Do your civic duty and tell the dogs they’re beautiful. Ask them how they became the best dogs in the world. Share your secrets with them. Just pet the dogs.

Image result for spending money bee and puppycat gif

  1. Buy something

Bring your allowance and treat yourself. You don’t have to buy something at my booth (you should but you don’t have to). Just buy something. There are a lot of deals you won’t be able to get anywhere else, and also – did you pay entry just to window shop? Why???

  1. Watch the jokesImage result for chat noir bad joke gif

Scenario: You walk past a tasteful camouflage display.

Options: A) walk by B) ask staff about their product C) Say “Whoa, didn’t see you there!” D) literally anything except for option C.

Correct Answer: every answer that wasn’t C. Look, you won’t be the first person to tell this kind of a joke. You won’t even be the second, the third, or the ninth. You will be politely smiled at and then promptly cussed out once you walk away. For the love of humanity, keep any and all camo jokes inside your head.


  1. Bingo

In anticipation of spending 10 hours out of each day inside a concrete box, I created a bingo card for use at the show. You can print mine or make your own. It’s a great tool for encourage you to notice and look for specific things.



     7. Just have a good time

Everyone is there to enjoy themselves and to meet other people who are enjoying themselves. Keep your cool when it gets crowded, take a chill pill if your favorite vendor runs out of a certain product, and strike up conversations with the people around you. Share your positive thoughts and keep your judgmental ones to yourself.

Unless your positive thought is a camo joke.

In that case, shut your dirty mouth and get right out of my face


5 Responses to “How to Get the Most Out of a Sportsmen’s Show”

  1. Laurie February 26, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    😜 fun post.

    • Mikki March 1, 2017 at 11:19 am #

      Thanks love! 🙂

  2. riverfox237 February 26, 2017 at 9:28 pm #

    No WAY, you were at a trade show, too?! XD I JUST got back from spending nine days at a Home & Garden Show! And I was by myself. For most of those nine days. That’s enough for even me, who does not mind talking to complete strangers and enjoys giving my well-practiced spiel, to experience plenty of moments where I simply wanted people to STOP TALKING TO ME.

    I haven’t been to a Sportman’s Show, but I presume they are very similar to all other trade shows out there. If that is so, then I would add a Very Important Item to your list:

    7. Look For The Free Stuff
    Growing up at these shows, literally the main reason we kids wanted to go was because we got to run around grabbing all the loot. AND THERE IS ALWAYS LOOT. It might just be candy, or it might be bouncy balls, mini flashlights, squishy toys, or even super rare cool stuff like stuffed animals and balloon people (I had not experienced a balloon person until this week’s show, but the functional balloon bow and arrow I received made it an important addition.) Long story short: if you are working a trade show and have no actual need/interest in what the other vendors are selling, or are at the show with someone who IS interested but you, personally, don’t care, this is still an excellent way to get the most out of the show. Just remember to ask nicely when taking things if you can’t stop and chat (they will almost definitely tell you to take as many as you want, but I feel it is polite to only take one), and if you get self-conscious about taking the stuffed animals, simply remind yourself and the people via saying out loud that this is, in fact, for your young relatives at home. Which is will be, because beyond the joy of treasure collecting, most of that stuff will go to the children. Except maybe the candy.

    Has this been your experience, as well, Mikki? I hope the show went good for you guys! I know that I’m more than happy to have mine over. XD;

  3. riverfox237 February 26, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

    P.S. There was a dog training booth very close to my booth with two excellent dogs, Trigger and Woody. I did, indeed, love on the dogs all through the show.

    • Mikki March 1, 2017 at 11:19 am #

      Ohhh my gosh, nine days??? My show was a lightweight compared to yours! You go, girl! And get the free stuff, that totally should have been in my post! There were lots of booths with little temporary tattoos and candies, and those were booths who knew what they were doing. 🙂 Dog training booths are my FAVORITE booths. Lucky you for being so close to them! If you see them again, tell them I love them.

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