There may be 10 inches of snow melting outside, but that doesn’t mean people can’t still enjoy the great outdoors.
The annual All-American Outdoor Expo will take place Feb. 26-28 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave., Fort Wayne. The expo is the first of its kind to return to the tri-state area since the onset of the pandemic.
Cancellations of the annual fishing exposition in Indianapolis and the RV show and the boat shows in Fort Wayne left exhibitors clamoring for this event, according to David Marquart, owner of Advanced Expo.
The event will happen in place of the annual Home & Garden Show, which has moved to mid-April, meaning that more space became available for rent.
“We could rent all the space we wanted. We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible,” Marquart said.
“Our show is now 130,000 square feet — over 3 acres under roof — which has allowed us to include everybody, spread people out safely, and make this show happen,” Marquart said in a statement.
Hours for the event are noon-9 p.m. Feb. 26; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 27; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 28.
According to Marquart, some adjustments have been made to ensure the event is safe and following guidelines from the Allen County Health Department. For example, masks will be required and aisle spaces will be wider to allow for social distancing.
“This year, we’ve got less big crowd gathering attractions,” Marquart said.
Some bigger attractions, including lumberjack shows and dog shows, may be missing this year, but having more space also means the opportunity to see more in general, including more RVs and boats, which is something Marquart is happy about.
In a way, this is one of the Advanced Expo’s biggest events, given that so many vendors want to participate.
“In a way, we’re the only show in town. It’s a good group of people exhibiting, attending; the concession stand will be open but limited,” Marquart said.
Tickets for the event can be purchased at memorialcoliseum.com. The cost of admission is $15 for all three days and free for children under 16; military personnel and veterans with identification get $3 off.
The cost of parking is $6 for the main lot and $10 for the preferred lot.
For more information, visit ftwayneallamericanoutdoorexpo.com.
“The RV, boating, and powersport industries are very important to our region’s economic recovery,” Marquart said. “As the only RV and boat show currently scheduled for the tri-state area in 2021, this Expo will give these important companies a safe opportunity to show the public their latest innovations for family recreation.”
Exhibits at the All American Outdoor Expo will include 50,000 square feet of RVs, 25,000 square feet of boats, plus ATVs, golf carts, motorcycles, fishing, camping, paddle sports, patio and deck furnishing, lake lifestyles, and more. There will be free live fishing for kids, and local entertainer Joe Justice will perform throughout the weekend. Artist Paul Moon will demonstrate speed chainsaw carving. Beth Wood of Indiana Wild will offer hands-on seminars featuring rescued animals, and Friends of Soarin’ Hawk will have presentations about birds of prey.
Marquart said the show will go on thanks to improving COVID reports in Allen County and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s lightened pandemic restrictions. Marquart also credited the Coliseum’s extraordinary work to ensure a clean, safe event for all ages.
“The show is possible due to collaboration between show management, exhibitors, and our venue staff,” Randy L. Brown, executive vice president and general manager of the Memorial Coliseum, said. “Everyone is working together to provide a safe environment for guests to enjoy the activities in compliance with state and local health guidelines. This collaboration includes everyone wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing and sanitizing.”