If you have any doubts, the turnout for Saturday’s Second Annual Augusta Outdoor Expo should quickly change your mind.
“We are absolutely going to make this an annual event,” said Adam Harris, the chairman of Augusta Outdoor Ministries, which held its first expo last year at Warren Baptist Church – and moved it to the James Brown Arena this year.
With more than 100 vendors, there was no empty space on the floor.
Crowds enjoyed casting clinics, a trout pool for fishing, archery range, outdoor simulators, wild game chefs, guide and taxidermy services, trail camera experts, deer stand makers, boat dealers, wildlife displays – even a flint napper who made arrow points and knives from stone, right before everyone’s eyes.
Augusta’s outdoorsiness – if there is such a word – is a powerful draw for the fellowship that helps the organization accomplish its goals.
“We have two missions,” Harris said. “To promote the outdoors for the youth of the future, and also to share the gospel through community outreach.”
The event’s proceeds, he added, are divided between those goals, with half set aside for next year’s expo and the other half devoted to outreach.
Harris hopes the organization can grow the expo into a multiday event, perhaps taking advantage of multiple venues that could accommodate more vendors and participants.
In addition, the region’s outdoor enthusiasts were treated to a double dose of hunting and fishing news last week with back to back announcements that Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s were both breaking ground soon on stores in our area.
The Bass Pro project will be located off Interstate 20 in Columbia County, while Cabela’s chose an Augusta site within the Village at Riverwatch project.
Both stores will offer plenty of fodder for Augusta’s outdoors community, and the Cabela’s site might also open up a new access to another popular destination: the Augusta Canal.
Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Canal Authority, said discussions were held four years ago – when Bass Pro was proposing a store in that location – about creating a new trail access or canoe/kayak launch area.
There have also been discussions about dredging and restoring the silted-in Warren Lake, which adjoins the canal on the development’s downstream side, and which could someday accommodate visitor access to the canal.
“All of that, as far as we’re concerned, is still in play,” Sherrouse said. “Obviously, we’ll be pursuing that with them and we’re optimistic that some of these things can be worked out.”