BDN drift boat trip contest expanding

Back in 2003, as BDN staffers prepared a booth for the Eastern Maine Sportsman’s Show, I had a conversation with our promotions manager, who asked an interesting question.

“How do we get people to stop and visit with us at the booth?” she asked.

At that point, with just a few months as this newspaper’s outdoor columnist, I knew even less than I know now. But I did have an answer for her.

“We’ve got to give something away,” I told her. “Not a raffle — everybody at the show holds raffles. We’ve got to give something away. No strings attached. And it’s got to be something good.”

Guide Dan Legere (left) and contest winner Don Factor during the 2011 outing.

My thought was to offer a fishing trip with a world-class Maine guide, on one of the state’s legendary fly-fishing waters. A drift boat trip would be perfect.

So I called Dan Legere of the Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville and asked if he was willing to take part in our little contest.

Thankfully, he was. And thankfully, as we celebrate our 10th annual Win a Drift Boat Trip contest, he still is.

To mark that anniversary, as we unveil the details of this year’s contest, I’m happy to report that we’ve decided to tinker with things a little bit.

We’re making the contest more accessible to even more anglers, who have enthusiastically embraced it by signing up for the random drawing over the years.

The West Branch of the Penobscot during the 2011 drift boat trip.

When we started (and for the next eight editions of the contest), we focused our efforts entirely on the Eastern Maine Sportsman’s Show, which is held each year in Orono. Readers of the printed BDN could also clip out a coupon and mail it to us, or deliver it to us at 491 Main in person.

But as we increasingly service our customers via the Internet, and increasingly reach folks in all four corners of the state (and beyond), we thought it’d be a good idea to introduce ourselves to those readers in person.

That’s why BDN writer Aislinn Sarnacki and my editor, Aimee Thibodeau, will be joining me at a couple other outdoor shows in the coming weeks. And that’s why we’ll have the big box of contest entries (and a huge pile of entry forms for you to fill out) at shows in Brewer and Augusta, in addition to the Orono event.

Before you ask: No. We’re not offering online entry to the contest. Our goal is to give the contest to someone who’ll take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy their day in the woods. When we meet folks in person, or receive a mailed-in entry blank, we’ve learned that we can be pretty certain that we’ve weeded out those who’d have little intention of actually fishing, and have entered on a lark.

Our schedule:

  • Feb. 25-26 at the Cabin Fever Reliever at the Brewer Auditorium.
  • March 9-11 at the Eastern Maine Sportsman’s Show in Orono.
  • March 30-April1 at the State of Maine Sportsman’s Show in Augusta.

Sarnacki, Thibodeau and I will be on hand to talk about our efforts to expand our outdoor coverage with a variety of new initiatives. Among those: Our partnership with Maine Trailfinder, and a constantly growing crew of bloggers who provide BDN Outdoors with more diverse content than we’ve ever had before.

In addition, we want to hear what you want more of, and explore ways to provide it.

The drift boat trip itself won’t change much: As has become our custom, our lucky winner will join Legere and me on Father’s Day, Sunday June 17, for a wonderful day on the water. Most years, we’ve fished on the East Outlet of the Kennebec River. In 2011, due to abnormal water flows on the East Outlet, we headed over to the West Branch of the Penobscot River.

And we caught a lot of fish.

Some of our past winners have been avid fly fishermen. Some have been novices. Others have never touched a fly rod in their lives, but had always wanted to try. All caught more fish than they ever thought possible.

That’s due to the efforts of Legere, who is simply one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.

This year, we’ll likely double or triple the number of entrants who sign up for a shot at this trip of a lifetime.

And we know we’ll meet a lot of folks who share our passion for Maine’s outdoors.

It should be a busy (and fun) several weeks.

See you at the shows!

John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.