The 2018 Topeka Boat and Outdoor Show will focus on drawing in a younger audience, according to organizer Phil Taunton.
Taunton, who hosts the “What’s in Outdoors” radio show for KVOE-AM in Emporia, is taking over this year after Clyde Holscher decided to step away from organizing the event. Among the ways Taunton hopes to attract a youth movement to the three-day show in early February is by allowing children 16 and under to get into the event free of charge.
Taunton, who also works with kids through the WILD Kansas and Fishing’s Future programs, said he hoped to also book more young presenters for the show, which traditionally has a heavy emphasis on fishing and boating but also includes hunting booths and seminars.
Show times will be 1 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4. Tickets will cost $7.75 for adults, with children 16 and under getting in free.
Among the main speakers at the Topeka Boat and Outdoor Show will be The Mushroom King, Tom Weipert, who will discuss mushroom hunting and recipes with those in attendance at his booth. Other tentative presenters include a bowfishing seminar from Bob Griffin, past president of the Kansas Bowhunting Association; longtime outdoors writer Ned Kehde, who will discuss using the “Ned Rig” to catch bass in bunches; Erie USD 101 superintendent Steve Woolf, of WILD Kansas, who will discuss the program and how Kansas schools have integrated fishing in their curriculum; a fly-fishing presentation by Damon Brake and champion fly-tier Kim Burnett focusing on drop flies; an ice-fishing presentation by In-Fisherman Magazine writer David Harrison, of Lawrence, and a crappie fishing presentation by Dustin Hobbs and Joe Bragg, of the Kansas Crappie Club.
Taunton said he would like to bring in a wildlife biologist from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to discuss new blue catfish and wiper regulations at Milford Lake, which he says are already paying dividends. He also hopes to bring in members of the three-time national champion Kansas State Bass Fishing Team, as well as David Studebaker, of Catfish Chasers, and presenters who will focus on outdoor photography.
For hunters, Roger Wells, former national habitat director for Quail Unlimited and upland bird habitat director for NWTF, is slated to present on maintaining and improving habitat for wildlife. Ron Browning’s trophy deer rack collection also will be on display, according to the show’s website.
Featured boats being sold at the show will include Crestliner, Four Winns, Bayliner, Silver Wave Pontoons, Heyday, G3, SunCatcher Pontoons, Cypress Cay Pontoons, Lowe, Bryant, Tige, Avalon, Yamaha, Chaparral, Sylvan Pontoons, Harris Pontoons and PWC.
The Monster Buck Classic, which typically runs the week prior to the Topeka Boat and Outdoor Show, will not be taking place in 2018 after undergoing an ownership change. The show, which was run by RJ Promotions, the same company that put on the boat show, is now under the management of Iowa Show Productions, Inc., based out of Waterloo, Iowa.
Angie Miller, spokeswoman for the company, said the classic will return to Topeka for 2019 and plans are already underway.