LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In the shadow of the mighty Ohio River, the third and final day of the 2016 ATA Show went smoothly at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville.
As crowds began to thin after the noonday lunch hour, the final sessions of order writing, media interviews and hunting personality autograph sessions took place as the show bid adieu to the Bluegrass State.
Here’s a sampling of what happened during the show’s final hours:
Initial Numbers for 2016 ATA Show Look Good
The early figures from this year’s ATA Trade Show are in and from all indications, this year’s visit to Louisville was a good one.
According to information provided by the Archery Trade Association, this week’s show saw a total of approximately 10,000 people in attendance including some 2,500 businesses making the trip.
Making their way to the show floor in Louisville were some 1,200 independent retailers and buyers who had approximately 3,500 people representing them during the trade show’s three-day run.
In addition to the above, some 650 manufacturing and supply companies were in attendance in Louisville, companies who brought nearly 4,700 staff members to the event.
NDA Charts Path Forward Under Pinizzotto
Nearly a year after its formation, the National Deer Alliance (NDA) is now moving forward under the direction of Nick Pinizzotto, the recently chosen CEO for the organization (www.NationalDeerAlliance.com).
Formed under the umbrella of Whitetails Unlimited, the Quality Deer Management Association and the Mule Deer Foundation, the NDA group and its new leader used this week’s ATA Show to help set their path forward in dealing with a variety of issues facing deer and the sport’s hunters.
“I want to establish a core area of focus for NDA so we can be great at solving the most important problems facing deer and deer hunters,” said Pinizzotto in an ATA news release.
Among those problems are disease and predator issues making news throughout various portions of the outdoors world, problems that have contributed to the recent decline of North American white-tailed deer numbers.
For his part, Pinizzotto is eager to accept the challenges that his new position brings.
“I’m here because the deer have (meant) so much for me in my life,” said the former CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance and the former CEO of the Delta Waterfowl Foundation.
“Deer define who I am,” he added. “It’s not just about the harvest for me. It’s about seeing them. They fascinate me. I’ve been hunting my entire life and I still stop my vehicle to just watch them.”
Volunteers Help ATA Show Run Smoothly
Like most other successful events around the country, not everyone who helps make the ATA Trade Show run efficiently each day is a paid staff member.
“The ATA Show benefits from the many great volunteers who help us,” said ATA CEO and President Jay McAninch.
“Gregg Brown and his team from Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia take great care of the shooting lanes,” he added.
“Many family members of the ATA staff volunteer, too. My wife, Janet, has worked in the ATA booth every year except one since 2001. Tina Stratman, Michelle Zeug’s mother, has volunteered for over a decade. Carla King, Mitch’s wife, has volunteered since 2007. Mitch Lewis, Maria’s husband, helps every year; and so does Luann Nelson, John’s wife.”
McAninch noted that for the 2016 version of the show, more than 40 volunteers worked in a variety of areas to help keep the show floor running smoothly.
“They help keep our staffing costs very low, and in return, they get a few hours to enjoy the show since they all love archery and bowhunting.”
Expansive ATA Booth Designs Continue to Wow
Walking around the trade show floor, it’s hard not to be impressed by the design and layout of the various booths put up by companies in attendance.
While some were simple and small, many others were amazingly big and featured multiple meeting rooms, plenty of creature comforts and even the use of dazzling technology displays.
All in an effort to help the business of archery and bowhunting flow as smoothly as the Kentucky bourbon that calls Louisville its home.
“When you went to this show years ago, it was similar to deer classics and other consumer shows,” said Bruce Hudalla, president of Hudalla Associates, in an ATA news release.
“It seemed everything was 8-by-10 booths,” he added. “Most companies now build booths specifically for the ATA Show. You walk around and you see lots of professional marketing efforts in the booths, overhangs, suspended signage, staircases and even (in) the restrooms.
“No one compares it to a deer show anymore.”
Hunters Leave Show, Head for the Deer Woods
As the 2016 ATA Show concluded on Thursday, the absence of some hunting television show hosts and industry celebrities was notable.
Why was that? In some cases, it was so the last few days of the 2015-16 deer season could be enjoyed and/or filmed.
One example of that was PSE Wild Outdoors host Jay Gregory. Mere hours after being on the show floor in Louisville with his son, Wyatt, Gregory was back in the snow covered Midwest hunting deer with his daughter, Whitly.
As it turns out, Gregory’s decision to head home for the final few days of the Iowa whitetail season was a good one.
“Ms. Whitly killed her a big beautiful old monarch of a deer tonight,” Gregory posted on his Facebook page Thursday night.
“He came in, was getting ready to leave and she fires a perfect shot from her crossbow,” he added. “The buck bolts and as he is running, off sheds both antlers.”
That made for an interesting and humorous recovery effort according to Gregory.
“It was one of the coolest hunts I’ve ever been a part of.”
Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Channel show host Chris Brackett was another hunter eager to get down the road.
After stopping in the Rage Broadheads booth for a few final day obligations, Brackett put the gas hammer down and headed for Ohio.
“Headed to knock down the last bucks of the season with one of our best buds,” Brackett posted on Facebook. “Just passed Cincinnati, headed to Millersburg, Ohio, to hunt with Brad Snow.”
Day Three Odds and Ends
After three days of hearing arrows slap targets in the spacious ATA Show shooting lanes, the 76 lanes finally fell quiet as the show closed and attendees began to head for the exits.
According to ATA officials, the estimated economic impact in Louisville from the 2016 ATA Show is some $6.9 million dollars. That includes more than 12,000 room nights from the nearly 10,000 in attendance this week.
While most people know Louisville serves as the annual spring home of the Kentucky Derby at nearby Churchill Downs, not everyone knows that the event also features a spectacular fireworks display. In fact, the “Thunder over Louisville” event in May is described by state officials as the largest fireworks display in the world.
With many show attendees sampling the region’s rich culture and cuisine, a frequent Instagram photo shared by show attendees this week was an image of “The Hot Brown” sandwich. Billed as an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a special Mornay sauce, the dish is a Louisville tradition and is found at more than 50 different local eateries.
While the ATA Show returns to the north side of the Ohio River the next two years for 2017 and 2018 visits to Indianapolis, Louisville’s run as ATA Show host isn’t over. The show returns to the Kentucky city in 2019 and in 2024.
In general, the Louisville ATA Show received warm reviews and high marks from those in attendance. “Every city has buildings, hotels and restaurants and all can roll out the red carpet,” said ATA CEO Jay McAninch in a news release. “Few cities have the warm, inviting nature of a town like Louisville.”
As the show wound down, a sense of relief and celebration was palpable, particularly in restaurants and eateries that are a part of the Louisville downtown district’s Urban Bourbon Trail. With Louisville serving as the birthplace of bourbon, some 95 percent of the world’s bourbon is distilled, aged and bottled in Kentucky.
As the ATA Show wrapped up its 2016 run in Louisville, a number of people in attendance found themselves reflecting on the event’s 20-year history. One of those included Malcom Snyder, vice president and marketing director for Pape’s Inc., who has been around since it all began a couple of decades ago. “The show is exciting,” Snyder said in an ATA news release. “You never know what will happen next. You’re sitting in your booth, talking to a dealer and you see a guy over there with a briefcase waiting to meet you. You assume he’s got nothing, but what if he’s about to hit the next homerun? The dealer leaves and the briefcase runs over and asks five minutes of your time. He opens his briefcase, you look, and you say: ‘Holy x%&#! How many can you make and when can you deliver them?’ That happens more often than you think.”
Randy Phillips, owner of Archery Headquarters Inc. and Arizona Rim Country Products, mused on the crowds of buyers, retail business owners, manufacturers, media members and celebrities walking the aisles this week: “Those early trade shows 20 years ago didn’t have as many dealers, manufacturers or booth space; and a lot of people clogging the aisles weren’t dealers,” Phillips said in an ATA news release. “Now, you have to plan and organize to get through it. We use the ATA Show’s app to map things out and make sure we see who we need to see. Even then, it’s a scramble to cover all of our bases.”
Does it pay for archery shop owners to attend the event? Brian Brochu, owner of Brian’s Archery Shop in Barrington, New Hampshire, sure thinks so: “No one goes to the show unless it makes sense financially,” he said in an ATA news release. “For 20 years, it has made more sense to go to the ATA Show than stay home and wait for sales reps to show me what’s new.”