HARRINGTON — A cold breeze whipping around outside the Delaware State Fairgrounds couldn’t deter thousands of people from keeping their dreams of warmer weather alive inside at the Delaware Outdoor Expo on Saturday.
Tim Seward, of Townsend, walked out of the Dover Building with a fishing rod he had purchased in one hand and a turkey picture he won as a door prize in the other.
Mr. Seward said he went fishing in the unseasonably warm weather just a couple of weeks ago and now he can’t shake the outdoors fever.
He said he was pleased with the nearly 70 vendors and the 11 demonstrations that the Delaware Outdoor Expo, which was presented by the Delaware State News, had to offer.
“It’s really nice, they’ve got some good deals,” Mr. Seward said. “This rod is really nice. I’ve never seen it but it’s cheaper than what you can get at Walmart and I do a lot of night fishing and this rod is glow in the dark.
“I took my nephew fishing the other week when it was real nice and we’ve got the itch now to keep on going. Turkey season is right around the corner, so that’s good.”
Dee Lucas, from Camden-Wyoming, said one didn’t have to be a hunter to enjoy all that the Delaware Outdoor Expo had to offer.
“It’s very informative and interesting,” Ms. Lucas said. “Actually my favorite thing was (the discussion about) conservation on water and how we can save our water from pollution.
“I’m an avid environmentalist but I also enjoy the hunting and the different things that are on display.”
Ms. Lucas said that naturally she saw lots of hunters decked out in camouflage, it was an outdoor event after all, but there were also lots of families who came to spend the day together.
“They have free things that they’re giving out and you can buy tickets to possibly win something and they have demonstrations,” she said. “It’s a myriad of all different things that you can do and it’s good for all ages. I wish my grandkids were here.”
The event lasted from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
There was a steady stream of people heading in and out of the Dover and Kent buildings at the fairgrounds.
The demonstrators and speakers regularly drew a crowd. Chris Erby, of Delaware Paddlesports, got things started with a presentation on kayaking and fishing at 9:30 a.m.
Local legend Harry Aiken gave a surf fishing and casting demonstration; Charles Messina showed his expertise at calling and hunting wild turkeys.
Robert Jones showed anglers how they can fish from a jet ski.
“If I don’t pass some of this on, then I’ve wasted a lot of time,” said Mr. Aiken, an 81-year-old who has been surf fishing in Delaware for 75 years.
“The fishing’s still good. I still love to fish and I try to pass it on as much as I can.”
There were plenty of other demonstrations to see: Food truck fare to eat and a vast roomful of vendors offering their goods and services.
Joe Privitera, owner and operator of Island Outfitters Taxidermy Studio, said he thought the cold weather outside helped bring a nice turnout inside at the expo.
“We’re doing very well. It’s a really good turnout,” said Privitera, who just moved his business to Delaware from New York. “That might be because they can’t do any yardwork because it’s so cold outside.”
Tom Byrd, publisher of the Delaware State News, walked around and absorbed the whole scene that the Delaware Outdoor Expo had to offer.
Mr. Byrd thought the inaugural event surpassed any expectations he had going into Saturday.
“It was a perfect day,” he said. “We have a lot of different vendors here and interesting things to learn and see what people are doing and what’s available.
“We’re excited about some of the educational things that are here that are involved with the outdoors and the environment and it’s great to see all of the different people here that have a true appreciation for the outdoors in the First State.”
Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at email@example.com.