Louisiana’s “Sportsman’s Paradise” moniker was on display Saturday as about 2,000 people visited the Louisiana Outdoor Expo at the Cajundome and Convention Center to get a look at new products on the market.
Visitors to the expo, like Alex Beauchamp, of Morganza, took in the more than 50 booths offering hunting, fishing and camping products and services, ranging from boats to weeklong hunting trips. Beauchamp said the event is giving him an opportunity to see the latest in outdoor accessories.
“This is great for avid hunters to come and see some cool products,” said Beauchamp, 43. “I am always looking for new ways to improve my camp or improve my hunts. These people come up with some interesting ideas, and they’re all in one place.”
The expo is a three-day event running from Friday through Sunday. Saturday’s festivities included appearances from A&E reality star Big Smo and rock ’n’ roll legend Ted Nugent. Nugent, an avid conservationist and hunter, called the people at the expo his “blood brothers.”
“This is my lifestyle,” Nugent said. “I’m hanging out with people who love it like I do. Anybody who is a conservationist and really values what hunting, fishing and trapping is, knows it’s perfect.
“It is the last perfect environmentalism in the world. Where do we get our quality air, soil and water? From wildlife habitat. Who pays for that? Hunters, fishermen and trappers. Who doesn’t get that? ‘Numbnuts.’ This is a gang of perfect conservationists who come in various forms, but as long as you add garlic and butter to a deer, you know you are revering it.”
Nugent and Big Smo posed for photos and signed autographs for fans. All proceeds from Nugent’s autographs go to fund his Kamp for Kids outdoor camp. Big Smo said being at the expo gives exposure to his line of products.
“Whether they’ve already been tuned in to the TV show or meeting me for the first time,” Big Smo said, “it’s like being at a family reunion and seeing your long-distance cousin that you’ve never met before. This place is amazing and really gives us an opportunity to tap into some of our other products.”
Vendors, such as Corey Scheide, of Russellville, Arkansas, also gain valuable product exposure. Scheide’s company, Southern Drift Apparel, started in 2014.
“There’s a lot of foot traffic with a lot of buyers, so that’s always nice,” Scheide said. “We don’t want to be like these other companies that have stores. We aren’t just a T-shirt company. We live this lifestyle, and we can get out at these shows and promote our brand. Everyone is getting to see the brand, and even if they don’t buy something today, it may spark interest and they can see we live the same lifestyle as them.
“It’s great for everyone involved.”