New Bakersfield show part of Fred Hall’s 2017 lineup
By JIM MATTHEWS
The Fred Hall Shows are the largest fishing, boating, and outdoor shows in the country. For Southern California sportsmen, these shows mark the beginning of the fishing and outdoor recreation season. The show series kicks off with the grand-daddy of the events at the Long Beach Convention Center March 1-5. This first show has been on-going since 1946, when it first staged at the old Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles. This is still the biggest of the shows with nearly 1,000 booths with everything from the latest fishing products to fishing destinations around the world, 400 seminars (plus or minus), and acres of boats, from kayaks to yachts, with a strong emphasis on fishing craft.
For the past 40 years, the Del Mar Fairgrounds Fred Hall Show has been the San Diego County adjunct to the Long Beach event. The Del Mar Show will be March 23-26, and it has grown by 25 percent from just year in both exhibitors and numbers of people attending the event.
Starting this year, the new Bakersfield show will be held at the Kern County Fairgrounds March 10-12.
Bart Hall, the son of Fred Hall who started these shows 71 years ago, said the Bakersfield show has actually been around for 40 years itself, run for the last 20 years by Mike Hatcher. Eight months ago, Hall said they purchased the Central Valley Sports Show and rolled it into the Fred Hall slate of events.
(Hall also admitted that he has been looking at starting a fourth show in the Inland Empire, looking at venues, including the National Orange Show in San Bernardino, the Ontario Convention Center, and the Citizens Business Bank Arena, also in Ontario.)
The Bakersfield show was already the largest outdoor show in the entire Central Valley, and under the new Hall management and banner, it will be even bigger than it has ever been, according to Hall. Exhibitor numbers are way up and one whole building has been dedicated just to fishing. It has more than 60 exhibitors. There will also be over 100 recreational vehicles on display and eight boat dealers showing dozens and dozens of craft.
This show also has some special features that have been a part of the event in the past and will be back for 2017. The Bako Sand Drags will be held concurrently at the fairgrounds Friday through Sunday. The annual Super Cruise Car Show, held by the Bakersfield Car Club Council, is also being held the Saturday and Sunday of the sports show, and over 1,000 classic cars are expected during the two days. Lastly, for the gear-head outdoor crowd, there will be a tractor pull on Saturday night. Admission to the sportsmen’s show will get you into all three of the other activities.
Hall was particularly pleased with the seminar line-up they had put together for the Bakersfield event.
Chef Scott Leysath, known as the Sporting Chef, has become a fixture at the Long Beach and Del Mar shows, and he will be in Bakesfield cooking wild game and fish, and those attending his seminars will get to sample his dishes free at the Costa Sporting Chef Cafe. Tiffany Hague will be showing anglers how to fillet fish. Frank LoPreste, the famous long range captain and boat owner, will be talking about giant tuna fishing. Marlon Mead, one of the most well-known freshwater anglers in Southern California, will be talking on local fishing techniques. Jared Smith of Parcher’s Resort out of Bishop and backcountry fishing book author, will be covering fishing the in Eastern Sierra Nevada, and Jim Salazar will be giving a primer on using hoop nets for lobster from private boats.
That just begins to scratch the surface. There will be a whole slate of professional anglers at the Diawa Bass Tank giving demonstrations and explaining the latest tackle and techniques.
The Bakersfield show hours are from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, March 10, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 11, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 12. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 62 and older, and kids 15 and under are free. Active military pay just $7.
For more information on the shows, you can visit the show’s website at www.fredhall.com.
It’s pretty safe to say that nearly every angler in Southern California has been to a Fred Hall Show at some point over the past seven decades. It’s almost a requirement for anglers. And now there are three of them.
[Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 909-887-3444.]