For the second straight year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Outdoor Expo – the state’s largest free outdoor expo –set an all-time attendance record.
The event drew 46,600 visitors over the March 25-26 weekend at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix. That shattered the previous two-day weekend record of 41,100, set in 2016.
A “Youth Day” experience also was offered March 24 that attracted 1,800 students, teachers and chaperones, bringing this year’s three-day total to a record 48,400. The previous record was 48,000 in 2015.
“We’re not aware of any other event of this scale that combines conservation, recreation and industry into such a welcoming environment for the public,” said Scott Lavin, the department’s wildlife recreation branch chief. “This is where people can find plenty of hands-on activities, test and purchase the latest equipment and products, and connect with social organizations that can provide countless ‘next step’ experiences to support their outdoor passions.”
The expo features everything from wildlife exhibits and family fishing tanks, to kayaking at the 90,000-gallon “Lake Paddlemore” and trying out firearms in a safe, controlled environment on the range. There also are many opportunities for visitors to check out more than 150 exhibitors, including sportsmen and conservation organizations, recreational shooting groups, government agencies and commercial vendors of outdoor products and services.
Since 2007, the expo traditionally has been scheduled for the last weekend in March. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the “Outdoor Expo.” The event previously was known as the “Hunting and Shooting Showcase” from 2004 to 2006.
Next year’s expo is scheduled for March 24-25, 2018, at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility. Visit www.azgfd.gov/expo for more information.