Mother Nature always tests us in late winter.
After a brief thaw has us thinking of trout lily blooms in the woodlots and strutting turkeys in greening pastures, we get a surprise, shovel-bending snowstorm or an Alberta Clipper that ushers in single-digit temperatures.
And this winter, I don’t have to remind you, the COVID-19 pandemic added an extra challenge to many of our lives.
But here in Wisconsin we’re used to dealing with – even appreciate – four seasons. More than the others, winter helps build our strength and adds to our character.
It also makes us extra appreciative of spring. I can feel it coming. Can’t you?
At some point a south wind will gather and push soft, warm air into Wisconsin. Our lakes will turn from hard to soft. Wood ducks will court on the ponds and steelhead will rise into our Great Lakes tributaries.
All of that, of course, will happen according to Mother Nature’s schedule and not a day sooner.
But a harbinger of spring is returning this year on a certain date. The 2022 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show will run Thursday through Sunday at State Fair Park in West Allis. Children age 5 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
Now in its 81st year, the show is the Midwest’s longest-running gathering of fishing, hunting and boating products, travel destinations and outdoor entertainment.
Just when we need it most the show offers an indoor celebration of the great outdoors. Since 1940 it has returned as a faithful partner no matter the weather or the economy. The exception, of course, was 2021, when the State Fair Park facility was transformed into a temporary field hospital.
As the pandemic wanes across Wisconsin and the nation, the 2022 show offers a special opportunity to gather again and return to traditions.
In its early days, the event was known as the “Fishermen’s Party.” This year’s edition will include a creel full of angling content, too, from vendors with the latest gear to seminars by leading experts to fishing lodges and guide services.
Interested in a new boat? The Mercury Marine Boating Pavilion will feature the latest models from personal watercraft to pontoons to bass and walleye boats.
If you’re dreaming of getting away this year, dozens of resorts, lodges, outfitters and travel destinations will be represented at the show. There’s nothing like an opportunity to speak face-to-face with your potential hosts to help you plan your next vacation.
If you like looking at trophy antlers, the 2022 show will feature a new attraction right up your alley. The Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club Trophy Deer Display will bring a jaw-dropping selection of whitetails taken in the Badger State, including the Jordan Buck (the one-time world record typical whitetail) and the Bocook Buck, the reigning state typical archery record.
You can also bring a deer rack to the show to be scored by WBBC and entered in a contest.
Another new feature this year provided by Mercury Marine is the Hawg Trough, a 5,000-gallon aquarium stocked with fish that will serve as the site for fishing demos and seminars. Ever wonder how a lure acts underwater? The 10-foot-tall and 25-foot-wide glass tank will allow you to get a “fish-eye’s view.” Pro anglers and guides will demonstrate fishing tips and techniques daily at the show.
As always, the Sports Show will afford plenty of opportunities to participate, too.
West Town Archery will offer archery tournaments and the trout pond will be back, too, to give you a chance to wet a line and take home a meal of fresh fish.
In addition, the Family Adventures Pavilion hosted by Dan Small will feature rock climbing, fly tying and an air rifle range.
No Sports Show would be complete without man’s best friend. The Milwaukee Dog Training Club and Donnybrook Kennel Labrador Retrievers will give demonstrations of dog handling.
And “amateur” four-legged stars will compete in the Vital Essentials Fastest Retriever Contest.
They’ll be plenty of impressive human performances, too. The DLW Timberwork’s Lumberjack Show will chop, throw and climb three times each day on the main stage Festival Foods Main Stage.
For cooks and food lovers, Mad Dog and Merrill and Starla Batzko will give daily shows at the Usinger’s Outdoor Grilling and Hunting Stage.
There is no telling what the weather will be like as March progresses.
But from March 10-13 the Sports Show will once again be back to provide a place to participate, watch, learn and dream in temperature-controlled comfort.
See you at the show.
If you go
What: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports Show.
When: Thursday, March 10 through Sunday, March 13.
Where: State Fair Park, Wisconsin Exposition Center, S. 84th St. and W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis.
Hours: 10 am to 8 pm daily, Sunday close at 5 pm
Tickets: $ 12 at the door for adults, $ 5 for children ages 5 to 17, free for children under 5.
Parking: $ 10.