SPRINGFIELD -- Just about the time the weather threatens to keep people indoors, the outdoors show season rolls around, beckoning people out.
The Field & Stream Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo comes to Springfield, for the first time since the late 1990s, on Feb. 1-3.
Visitors can find the latest in outdoors gear, learn about hunting and fishing destinations, attend informational seminars or watch an archery trick-shot artist.
A trophy deer contest attendees can see likely will draw 250 or more mounts.
Turkey calling and owl hooting contests will be held (see PrairieStateOutdoors.com for a video from a past owl hooting competition).
The show's executive director Glenn Helgeland said preparations are coming along smoothly.
By Jan. 18, nearly all of the 160-170 vendor slots and 220-230 booths on the show floor were filled.
"Our exhibit floor is just about full and that Prairie Capital Convention Center is a really nice building," he said. "Every time I look at it I get more excited about the possibilities."
Jill Tavine, events coordinator for the PCCC, said the show floor will be "jam-packed."
"They really do take up every single inch of our hall and space downstairs (for the deer trophy judging)," she said.
Tavine said the hall is so full she had to turn away a pizza vendor.
"I told him, I'm really sorry, but there is absolutely no place for me to put him," she said. "Even if he cooked outside, and we gave him an eight-foot table inside the hall there is not enough room."
The show is moving to Springfield after stints in Peoria and Bloomington. Springfield's PCCC had the February dates available the show was seeking.
In Peoria, the show had been scheduled for late March, when the weather was warming up enough for people to really get outside.
"There was no way we wanted to have it at the end of March again," Helgeland said. "Snow and ice doesn't hurt us. The first good spring weekend of the year hurts us more."
Springfield's central location and nearby hotels are another plus, Helgeland said.
"Everything is positive so far," he said.
Last year, 13,459 people attended the event when it was held in Peoria.
"We might miss a few people late Sunday afternoon because of the Super Bowl, but there is nothing we can do about that," Helgeland said.
The early February date is a "one-time thing," he said. Next year, the Expo moves to the end of February.
Page 2 of 2 - Helgeland's company, Target Communications, sold the Expos to Bonnier Corp., which owns Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, in 2011. Target ran the expos for 27 years.
Helgeland said the Field & Stream and Outdoors Life brands helped attract new sponsors to the show, including Yamaha ATVs and Mathews and Mission bows.
"And we've great seminars, including one on Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease and its effects," he said. "We've got Byron Ferguson, archery trick shot artist.
"Year in and year out he is our No. 1 draw," Helgeland said. "And he's good at it."
Chris Young is an outdoors writer for GateHouse News Service. He can be reached at (217) 788-1528. Follow him at twitter.com/ChrisYoungPSO. Read more outdoors news at PrairieStateOutdoors.com.
Field & Stream Illinois Deer & Turkey Expo
When: 2-9 p.m. Feb. 1, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 2, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 3
Where: Prairie Capital Convention Center, Ninth and Adams streets, Springfield
Tickets: $13 one day adult admission; $21 two-day adult admission; $12 military personnel with proof of service; $10 ages 12-18 with hunter education certificate; $4 ages 6-11; free for hunter education instructors. Tickets available at the PCCC box office.
Trophy contest entrants: $15 contest entry fee, no ticket needed. Free weekend pass with trophy entry fee. Measure only — admission ticket plus $15 measuring fee.
1. Whitetail buck trophy, Illinois deer only
2. Trail camera photo contest
3. Outdoor photo contest
4. Illinois State Turkey Calling & Owl Hooting Contest (Feb. 2).
Seminars on a range of deer and turkey hunting and scouting topics will be presented. All seminars will be repeated up to three times.
New this year: seminar on Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in deer.