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Heartland Outdoors

Annual Boat Show Is Back

Tue, December 12, 2017

Spring comes early in southern Illinois.  It happens even before the popular blooming of the dogwoods.  One harbinger of spring is the 111th Annual Southern Illinois Boat & Fishing Show held February 2-4, 2018 at The Pavilion in Marion, Illinois.  The Pavilion is an exhibition hall north of the Illinois Star Center Mall at 1603 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois.

Contrary to the predominant boat show participation, this show has shown a steady increase in attendance each year.

There may be no free lunch in this world, but most everything else at the Southern Illinois Boat & Fishing Show free.  There is free parking, free admission, free music, displays of outdoor equipment and fishing seminars on Saturday and Sunday.  Anyone wishing to donate canned goods can drop off their offering at the door.  All donations will replenish area food pantries.

The show hours are Friday, 3:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., Saturday 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.

A special vendor’s area provides some income for the event by displaying fishing and hunting equipment.  It is a chance to view new boats and fishing tackle, as well as to stock up for the upcoming fishing trips.  A food concession has sandwiches, etc for sale.  Proceeds go to Gum Drops and Youth Outdoor Education Foundation, the two non-profits benefiting monetarily from the show.

Gum Drops is a Harrisburg, Illinois program that provides food for high-risk children during the school week.  On weekends, they get a backpack of food for the non-school days.

The Youth Outdoor Education Foundation is an organization of volunteers from John A. Logan College providing Hunter Safety Education Programs.  Students from the Hunter Safety Classes are eligible to participate in Youth Turkey, Dove and Deer hunts.  Other physically challenged are also included in the hunts.  The volunteers also help The US Fish & Wildlife Service to provide a Free Fishing Day Derby for several hundred children at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.

Children involved in these programs receive program related gifts donated by civic-minded companies and individuals.  They learn outdoor skills and ethics related to hunting and fishing.

Getting back to the boat show, hundreds turn out for the 2 ½ day event.  Local guides as well as the popular “meet the biologists” session treat them to fishing seminars.  Three of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Managers will talk about the lakes in their areas of southern Illinois.  Information as to what fish are available, the fish populations and health, as well as where to catch them is provided.  Handouts show the site of fish attractors with GPS settings and recent fish survey information not otherwise available.

On a more social level, musical entertainment includes live music from 3:30 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. on Saturday.

In addition to fishing tackle vendors, boat and marina owners are present to display their latest offerings for the upcoming season.  They are also happy to answer questions about watercraft and ATV operation.  Those interested in a possible purchase can schedule a future test drive.

For more information about the Southern Illinois Boat and Fishing Show, contact the Williamson County Tourism Bureau in Marion, Illinois.  Their online presence is www.visitsi.com or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  The telephone number is 1-800-GEESE-99.

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