The 2014 Bassmaster Classic Expo is in the books. After three days jammed full of industry news, product displays and fishing folklore, the FTR staff has returned home.
Along the way, we took time to reflect back on the 2014 Expo and compile a short list of booth features that visitors loved most.
1. Toyota Booth
Plenty of booths relied on casting games to get visits involved; but one of the most engaging ones was done at the hyperactive Toyota booth. In fact, Toyota’s booth—stationed at the main expo entrance— centered mostly around energetic games. Here, show-goers could take casting lessons into the mouth of enormous, inflatable bass from a Toyota pro-staffer, check out an aquarium in the back of a Highlander or compete against each other for prizes. The Toyota booth drew lines almost every time we walked by.
2. Bill Dance
It goes without saying that Dance is an icon of the bass fishing industry; he’s a veritable Paul McCartney to Ray Scott’s Elvis. The orange-hatted fisherman and comedian was all over the 2014 Bassmaster Classic Expo, and every where he went a swarm of fans appeared. Dance busied himself telling stories and signing autographs, proving that sometimes a little star power is just the right remedy to draw visitors to any booth.
3. Cool Gear
New products inundated the expo. Larger booths had the flash, but some of the best products were found in smaller booths like this one from Wild River. Their ultra-useful survival backpack has really taken off among kayak fishermen thanks to a seemingly limitless storage solution that combines lighting, a mobile device charging station and (some time this year) solar panels.
4. History Lessons
Fishing history was represented in a big way at the 2014 Classic. From a restored Rebel boat from the inaugural classic at the Carlisle Tires booth, to antique motors at Mercury and Evinrude, lures and a 1974 Ranger Boat at Lew’s, visitors were treated to a small museum of fishing lore at this year’s show.
5. Funny Hats
A surprisingly large number of these Burger King-esque bass hats were seen floating around the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Center this weekend. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
6. Boat Wraps
Specifically, unique boat wraps. In today’s day and age boats decked out with bow to aft graphics are nothing new, but a few companies found ways to make their wraps stand out. GoPro’s matte black wrap had to go through special approval from Nitro to become a reality, but aside from being loaded with the nearly indestructible fisheye lenses that have made the company famous, the matte look really set the boat apart from most of the other ones at the show.
Far and away the biggest universal draw to booths throughout the weekend. Giveaway highlights included an enormous truck from BOOYAH, a portable kayak from Folbot, cameras from GoPro, $500 gift cards from Geico, sunglasses from Costa and lures galore. Many of the giveaways—at booths large and small—were fueled by iPad kiosks that made signups a breeze.