The Southern Tier Outdoor Show
Created to be a regional sportsmen’s expo a dozen years ago, the non-profit Southern Tier Outdoor Show has grown from sixty vendors to over 140, with attendance over 7,000 last year. At this annual weekend event—it’s October 13-14 this year—recreational experts share the best of products and services with which to enjoy the great outdoors. Outdoor sports enthusiasts from the Empire State, from neighboring Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Jersey, and from as far away as Maine and South Dakota come to Steuben County Fairgrounds in Bath to set up, share, and promote nature activities. The board of directors, show manager Carla Dawejko, and dedicated staff and volunteers have one aim with this event: to highlight the diversity of the region’s natural resources and connect visitors with outdoor recreational opportunities.
At its inception, the outdoor attraction was geared for the avid sportsman. Since 2007, Carla, and her right hand, Darlene Spencer, have seen sponsored activities become family and youth centered, with more female participants.
“The focus is to get our youth involved, to pass the enthusiasm for enjoying the outdoor elements on,” Carla says. “Also, we are very committed to bringing in as many local business vendors as possible. The show is a vital way of linking community to family by stimulating interest in what nature has to offer.”
With assistance and coordination from Cornell Cooperative Extension, board members and volunteers seek out products and services from new vendors each year, as well as continuing long- standing relationships with local sponsors and partners. Until 2017, Brian Wilkins of Wilkins RV in Bath offered his business location as show site, but, with more vendors and more attendees every year, there was the happy dilemma of needing more space. There is oodles of parking at the fairgrounds, and room for growth.
“Show me something new in outdoor equipment every year,” says Carla. “That’s what we strive for. Last year disc golf was one of our popular draws. People want options for outdoor fun.” Thanks to Carla, fellow board members, dedicated volunteers, and public support, the Southern Tier Outdoor Show has become a mecca of outdoor recreation ideas. Who wants to do some rope climbing this year or see the new DockDogs—the latest in canine performance sports? You can improve your archery aim, watch the younger set have a blast at the youth indoor fishing pond, see beekeeping demonstrations (and get some honey), or try your hand at tomahawk throwing. There are living history activities, air rifle simulators, and laser shooting sites. (Keep in mind all activity areas are within safe perimeters and are well supervised.) A multi-state carry permit class and a New York permit legalities/firearms safety class are being offered for a fee. Fun contests for all ages include 3D tournaments, buck mount scoring, dog retriever challenges, and turkey calling. Some will miss ice fishing camp this year, but Ben Blegen of the U.S. Ice Team is on assignment in England. He will bring his ice camp back in 2019.
And don’t forget the good stuff at the food court.
Your pets, trained and polite, of course, are welcome. Past and present furred, feathered, and scaled attractions involve dogs, bear, falcons and other birds of prey, snakes, and deer. Get close with wriggling bass and trout in the fishing pond competition. You never know what will be reeled in for each year’s event.
The weekend is affordable, at ten dollars per day per car load, with no maximum, or just five dollars per person. Entry grants visitors chances to win a four-person Finger Lakes fishing trip, and quality outdoor sporting equipment. Volunteer opportunities abound, and include survey collection during the event, parking assistance, photography, registration, and working throughout the year to add to the sponsor/vendor list. Carla mentions that extra hands are always needed and appreciated for the set up and tear down.
“Don’t forget the perk you get if helping out on Saturday—a free admission on Sunday,” she says. “And for students, community service hours can be earned.”
There will be “tails” and “tales” galore from the Southern Tier Outdoor Show. Make a plan to fill your backpack with outdoor awareness, natural resources education, free hands-on activities, and ways to care for the environment and improve quality of life.
Carla says she is grateful to have the support and sponsorship of local, state, and national businesses, as well as local broadcast and bank partnerships. Local 4-H, Boy Scouts, and National Guard are also a committed part of the outdoor event team. The resulting extensive lineup of entertainment is an outdoor lover’s ticket for best show. Check out southerntieroutdoorshow.com for the latest updates, or call (607) 664-2300.