The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has brought back the annual midwinter hunting and fishing show after it was cancelled last year following the death of its founder, Bob Gerding.
“We’re thrilled to be reviving the annual outdoor adventure show and carrying on the tradition that Bob started so many years ago,” says Lance Cherry, Chief of Information and Education for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF).
The department has taken over the show with the Gerding family’s blessings and has since slashed by half all booth rental and admission prices.
And anyone under 18 or presenting a valid hunting, fishing or trappers license will get in for free, too.
“It’s more about continuing to promote New Mexico’s great outdoors and wildlife than making a profit,” Cherry says of the reduced fees.
And that’s welcome news to those working in New Mexico’s $6.6 million-a-year outdoor recreational industry.
“We’re thrilled to see them continuing Bob’s legacy,” says Clarissa Lopez of Espanola, author of the “old school” angling guide “Fisher Chick” and a custom maker of distinctive fishing lures. “It provides us great exposure while bringing together everybody who loves our great outdoors.”
The show on Valentine’s Day weekend, Feb. 14 and 15th, will feature many of the same vendors as found in years past including hunting and fishing guides, lodges, outfitters, artists, firearm and archery equipment sales people, recreational vehicles, campers and non-profit organizations dedicated to the outdoors, Cherry says.
The revival of the show means a lot to the Gerding family, says Dick Gerding, Bob’s twin brother and a prominent Farmington attorney.
“We’re very pleased that it’s going to continue, the show was one of his happiest accomplishments,” Dick Gerding said.
Putting on the annual show for the past 15 years was a Gerding family tradition during which everyone, including wives, brothers, sons, daughters and grandkids worked, Gerding said.
Bob Gerding was known for personally greeting many of those who attended his show and his presence will be sadly missed at this year’s event, Gerding said.
Gerding may be gone but he’s certainly not forgotten as since his death in December 2013 at the age of 75, the Natural Resources building on the state fairgrounds has been named in his honor along with the catch and release pond at Tingley Beach.
Gerding can also still be seen in many NMDGF videos posted on the department’s You Tube page at www.youtube.com/user/NMGameandFish. And event organizers are planning a tribute to Gerding during the show, too.
Gerding’s longtime fishing buddy, TJ Trout of 94 Rock fame, said just reviving the show is a great tribute to the man whom he came to know and love.
“I met him while he was working the counter at Charlie’s Sporting Goods,” Trout says. “There was always a line of folks waiting to talk to him because he was the Yoda of fly fishing in New Mexico. He even turned me on to it.”
Trout says he asked Gerding to come on his radio show to talk fishing one day and after he did the two became improbable friends.
Gerding appeared regularly on Trout’s show while also conducting a call-in fishing show once a week on KRQE Channel 13’s noon newscast. He was also the longtime host of NMDGF’s television and video shows “Wild New Mexico” and “New Mexico Wildlife” and even penned a couple of books about fly fishing and fly tying.
But it was his many years working the counter at Charlie’s Sporting Goods and his annual hunting and fishing show that Gerding may have been best known for, says Ryan Garrett, President of the New Mexico Wildlife Foundation, a non-profit, support organization for NMDGF.
“I took fly tying classes with him at Charlie’s and went to the outdoor show as a kid growing up in Albuquerque,” Garrett says. “So it’s a great honor to help carry on that legacy.”
At its height Bob Gerding’s annual outdoor show featured over 100 vendors with close to 10,000 visitors and was the place to be in mid-February.
New Mexico plays host to an estimated 160,000 resident and nonresident anglers who spend $268 million a year while fishing and some 87,600 hunters spend another $345.5 million a year while hunting, according to a recent NMDGF commissioned study of the industry.
Hunters and anglers also support more than 7,900 jobs in New Mexico that provide more than $267 million in labor income which translates into about $51 million in state and local revenues. The full study including county by county analysis can be seen at http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/download/publications/press-release/NMDGF-Economics-of-Fishing-Hunting-and-Trapping-Final.pdf.
New Mexico Wildlife Foundation is assisting NMDGF in producing this year’s show and will also be holding a benefit banquet the evening of opening day where over a dozen premiere hunting and fishing packages will be auctioned off to benefit New Mexico’s wildlife, Garrett said. See the foundation’s website at www.nmwildlifefoundation.com for more info.
The New Mexico Outdoor Adventures Hunting & Fishing Show runs Feb. 14-15, 2015 at Expo New Mexico in the Manuel Lujan Building. The event will be open to the public Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the show will be $3 for adults or free to youth under the age of 18 or anyone who hold a valid hunting, fishing or furbearer license.
For more info see the department’s website at www.wildlife.state.nm.us .