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Local Life

Sportsmen’s Expo welcomes all

Annual event’s offerings reflect a changing state

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There are many reasons why so many people have been moving to Colorado over the years, but one is certainly the plethora of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The activity options seem to be ever-diversifying, and for 41 years, the Denver International Sportsmen’s Exposition has been growing with the times.

“The state has been going through major changes, and while we still feature booths and information on hunting and fishing, we’ve had to grow,” said John Kirk, director of communications with International Sportsmen’s Expos. “The businesses that come here have had to develop new strategies and customers, and we want to showcase them.”

This year’s expo is Jan. 11-14 at the Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th St. in Denver, and features more than 530 companies, from travel and RV companies to fishing and hunting retail and camping gear.

“We’ve been setting up at the expo for 27 years,” said Chuck Prather, with the Wheat Ridge-based Rocky Mountain Angling Club, which provides members exclusive access to about 45 catch-and-release sites in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. “It’s a chance to meet our members and put names to faces. A lot of friends come by.”

In addition to all the booths, there will also be classroom clinics, a wilderness camp, archery tag, casting ponds, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife Outdoors Pavilion.

“Many of the new people who move to Colorado want to know what kind of activities they can do, how they can do them, and where,” Kirk said. “We want the expo to be a jumping-off point for everyone who comes through.”

It’s also important for the event to promote conversation and stewardship of open spaces and wildlife, which is why the expo makes sure to work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and other similar organizations, Kirk added.

“Being outdoors teaches personal responsibility, and teaches us the connections between everything,” he said.

For the businesses who set up shop at the expo, many off which are local and independently owned, it’s a rare opportunity to show off their wares in front of thousands of visitors.

“We do a lot of business when we’re at the expo,” said Leo Lopez, one of the owners of Northglenn-based LCL Hunting, which sells custom-made hunting and kitchen knives. “We bring out products to our booth, which people can buy right there.”

Englewood’s 1 Shot Gear, which sells premium hunting gear, including clothing, optics, bags and other gear, also has found tremendous success setting up a booth at the expo.

“We’ve gone for the past four years, and are always very, very busy,” said Zach Snoke, warehouse manager for 1 Shot. “We all have a passion for hunting, and it’s a great community event for everyone at the expo.”

The name of the expo has become a kind of misnomer, as a result of International Sportsmen’s Expos’ efforts to grow the scope of its community, Kirk said.

“Before these activities were mainly focused on men, but we’re seeing more women, couples and children looking to get started in many of these activities,” he said. “Coming here is like a treasure hunt, where everyone can explore and find something that interests them.”

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