For much of the year, Calvin Kavanaugh of Eau Claire travels around the Midwest in order to sell his wares — slip lock bobbers invented by his father, Patrick.
But over the last six or seven years, Kavanaugh always looks most forward to the Wisconsin Sport Show in Eau Claire.
“It’s nice to be home,” Kavanaugh said casually, leaning on his booth on the opening day of the show.
Kavanaugh was one of more than 150 vendors — who specialize in anything from bobbers and lures to snowmobiles and boats to wood carvings and lamps — at the Wisconsin Sport Show.
The event continues today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Chippewa Valley Expo Center, 5150 Old Mill Plaza Drive. Admission at the door is $9, and kids 11 years old and younger get in free.
But it’s not just the vendors that draw thousands of folks to the event each year. Chris Cooper, event organizer and promotions director, said the event has something to offer just about anybody.
Visitors to the show can check out hunting and fishing seminars as well as hunting dog demonstrations. Not far away, parents can take their children to a petting zoo that features animals such as goats, camels and even a squirrel monkey, Cooper said.
“The great thing about (the Wisconsin Sport Show) is that it is for people of all ages,” Cooper said. “Every generation can come out and find something that they’re interested in.”
Improvements this year, Cooper said, include larger areas for vendors who are selling boats, four-wheelers, snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles.
Speakers for the weekend will include Ace Sommerfeld, who will offer tips and tricks that he’s learned over his years of muskie fishing in northern Wisconsin, and Mark Harsch, who will talk about bloodhound tracking. Sommerfeld will speak at 3 p.m. today and 1 p.m. Sunday and Harsch will speak at 2 p.m. Sunday.
As they wandered around the Chippewa Valley Expo Center Friday afternoon, Tom Salter of Bloomer said he and his wife Karen made the trek to Eau Claire for the chance to get moving after spending the majority of the winter trapped inside, and to window shop for some “new toys” — snowmobiles.
“Everyone’s got spring fever and I think we’re all itching to get out and move around,” Salter said. “And the snowmobiles were nice, but I’m ready to go swimming, you know?”