It’s a great day in October when Carla Dawejko spots the line of cars at the gate stretching as far as the eye can see. Families, couples and kids jump out and head to the tents that line the parking lot. An RV parked outside the showroom plays music and announcements, and the aroma of a chicken barbecue fills the air. Near the entrance, a chainsaw artist carves intricate figures out of pine logs, delighting spectators.
Many have come here with a mission. Some make a beeline for the archery field with their bows, and others will compete with their dogs in Jim Beverly’s Companion Retriever Hunting Challenge. Everyone anxiously anticipates what they know awaits them: fantastic food, displays of live deer, the Birds of Prey show and much more. They’re at the Southern Tier Outdoor Show, and they know they’re in for a good time.
Dawejko has been coordinating the show since it was first envisioned in 2006. As public affairs coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension, Dawejko was eager to put together an event that would highlight the wealth and diversity of natural resources in Steuben County. After all, it’s New York State’s premier location for outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, winter sports and more. An outdoor show in Steuben County seemed like a no-brainer. After months of planning and working with media partners, the first Southern Tier Outdoor Show was hosted by Wilkins RV Inc. in Bath in October 2007. Nearly 2,000 people attended.
Since then, the show’s attendance has more than doubled. Exhibits feature everything from outdoor equipment and outdoor properties to charters and taxidermists. “Attendees learn so much: About the broad array of outdoor recreation opportunities provided by our rich natural resources, the current environmental issues affecting those resources, and what they can do to ensure that future generations have the same opportunities to enjoy the outdoors,” said Dawejko.
“Inside the Wilkins showroom, the aisles are swamped,” she continued. “People are shopping and signing up for raffles. They’ve brought their prize deer heads to be scored, they are checking out the maple cotton candy, and they are looking at the RVs. Some head upstairs to the seminar room for an hour-long session on the New York State Black Bear; or to learn about food plots for whitetails, hiking trails or outfitting a woman for archery. Others head to the garage side of the building where they find more shopping and activities including turkey calling, an indoor fishing pond, and a stage featuring animal shows three times a day.”
In terms of events and seminars, the Southern Tier Outdoor Show does a great job bringing people what they want. The popular Birds of Prey show offers an up-close-and-personal experience of birds flying back and forth between two rows of the audience. One year, people took tethered hot air balloon rides. Last year, TV star Jarod Miller, an understudy of the famous Jack Hanna, entertained an audience with exotic animals. Another show exhibitor, the Wildlife Defenders, is a group of people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Now they care for more than 36 species of native and exotic wildlife.
“We try to change it up from year to year, so we are not only attracting new people to the show, but also return visitors,” said Dawejko. “This year, we have invited ‘A Grizzly Experience’ with a 650-pound bear and two cubs. Yogi and Booboo were both 1 year old in January, and they each weigh 100 pounds.”
Also at this year’s show will be fishing comedian Curt Strutz. The GLOCK handgun company will be there, allowing participants to test-shoot the newest version.
Award-winning outdoor writer, nature photographer, lecturer and whitetail deer expert Charlie Alsheimer will be a presenter this year. He will discuss whitetail deer behavior, quality deer management, hunting opportunities in Steuben County and hunting techniques.
When Alsheimer worked in the corporate world of sales and marketing, he had a phrase: “Nothing happens until something is sold.” He believes the same is true in this instance. “In this situation, you’re trying to sell an idea – sell people on the fact that Steuben County is a great place to live, a great place for recreation,” said Alsheimer. “It’s not just average, but a great opportunity.”
Dawejko hopes the Southern Tier Outdoor Show is a great learning experience and source of inspiration for everyone. “We may be able to tell them how to deal with black bears in their backyard, how to score a whitetail, how to plant a food plot or how to strengthen their muscles for bow hunting. They can see how a taxidermist works on a mount, or find out a better way to heat their homes. Most of all, we hope they learn that hunting and fishing may be a lost sport if it is not handed down from generation to generation. This show could inspire them to do that.”
Fall Events in Steuben County
When you attend the 17th Annual Jazz & Harvest Festival on September 21 and 22, you’ll experience the Gaffer District like never before. “The festival has remained one of our most popular events from year to year because it celebrates the bounty of the Finger Lakes Region in the beautiful autumn season,” said Mike Melaro, director of marketing and communications for the district.
What’s more exhilarating than running a race alongside several thousand people – or even watching from the sidelines? Doing it all with the beautiful backdrop of fall in Corning. The Wineglass Marathon spans 26.2 miles from Bath to Corning, finishing on historic Market Street. This year, more than 4,000 people are expected to run on September 30.
The Seaplane Splash-In on September 15 will delight visitors to Hammondsport’s
lakefront. The purpose of the Seaplane Homecoming is to honor the man, Glenn Hammond Curtiss, who inspired men to
pursue seaplane development.
On September 22 and 23, the “Once Upon a Lake” Storytelling Festival will be held. “Hammondsport is the perfect setting for an event like this,” said Brett Steeves, one of the event organizers. On a smaller scale, he and other organizers want this event to
mirror the National Storytelling Festival.
Call 607-569-3442 for information.
The sixth annual Southern Tier Outdoor Show will take place on October 13 and 14 at Wilkins RV Inc. in Bath.
For more information, visit www.SouthernTierOutdoorShow.com,
or call the Steuben County Cornell Cooperative Extension at 607-664-2300.
by Kim Price