Black Labrador Retriever dog, dock diving.

The North America Diving Dogs are among the exhibits already lined up to appear at the inaugural Wisconsin Game Fest, which will be held at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls Sept. 7-8, 2019. The event is operated by the same group that runs the Wisconsin Sport Show in Eau Claire in March.

CHIPPEWA FALLS — A new outdoor sports show promoting archery, hunting and hundreds of exhibitors will be presented in September at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls.

The Wisconsin Game Fest is planned for Sept. 7-8.

Fairgrounds director Rusty Volk is excited to add another major event to the summer calendar.

“It’s exciting what it could grow into, with the dogs and all the outdoor sports,” Volk said. “This is going to be awesome. There will be lots of vendors in town, and they’ll be staying in area hotels.”

The Wisconsin Game Fest website says it will “feature exhibits, activities and events such as outdoor retail, conservation organizations, dog kennels and trainers, hunting and fishing guides and outfitters, outdoor recreational vehicles and much more.”

Organizer Lisa Gill also coordinates the Wisconsin Sport Show in Eau Claire; this March, that event will mark its 10th show.

“Our vendors have been asking for a fall show,” Gill said. “They felt this market is large enough for two shows.”

The spring show is typically geared more toward fishing, but Gill said the new event will focus more on hunting activities.

“People will be encouraged to bring their dogs,” she said. “There will be numerous stages and seminars and education groups. One of the biggest focuses will be on families and kids.”

With an outdoor show, there simply is the ability to do more “hands-on” exhibits, she added.

The Wisconsin Sport Show is limited to about 160 exhibitors because it is indoors; Gill said the show in Chippewa Falls should top 200 exhibitors between three buildings plus the outdoor displays.

Among the exhibits already announced are Steve Porter’s Trophy Deer, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation youth shooting trailer, the Fantasy Corral Petting Zoo and the North America Diving Dogs. The Wisconsin Game Fest organizers are partnering with the Westgate Sportsman’s Club to open the inaugural event.

Variance needed

The Chippewa Falls public safety committee discussed the festival Tuesday because the event would include shooting air guns and archery, which are currently prohibited in city limits. Wisconsin Game Fest is seeking a variance or possible amendment to that ordinance.

Volk said they plan to use the nearby outdoor shooting range in Tilden as part of the event.

“(Any shooting events) wouldn’t happen unless there was a professional involved,” Volk told the committee. “We have to be safe, because we will be in town.”

Chippewa County Judge Steve Gibbs spoke at the meeting, saying he is an instructor for the National Rifle Association and helped design the Tilden range. He said there are several certified range constructors who would be willing to verify the range is safe.

“We would set up a range that the chief of police would have to approve that would contain all projectiles,” Gibbs told the committee.

Gibbs said other outdoor sportsman shows have drawn tens of thousands of patrons.

“This would be something very beneficial to the Chippewa Falls area,” Gibbs said.

No action was taken at Tuesday’s meeting. City attorney Bob Ferg said he will draft a proposed variance for the organization in the next week.

“I think it’s just a matter of fine-tuning,” Ferg said.

To learn more, visit wigamefest.com or contact Gill at lisa@wisportshow.com.

Contact: chris.vetter@ecpc.com