BDN Maine Outdoors Expo on tap this weekend

When our BDN Maine events crew started planning its first Outdoors Expo, those of us on the editorial side charged with writing outdoors stories were excited, to say the least.

For years, the BDN has had a presence at other outdoor shows, and we’ve always had a great time. Learning that this spring the company would actually host its own show was rewarding, if a bit intimidating.

Luckily, us ink-stained wretches didn’t have to do any of the heavy organizational lifting: That was taken care of by events producer Pat Lemieux and his hard-working staff.

But now the planning’s nearly finished, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming you to the BDN Maine Outdoors Expo when doors open on May 4. The expo is being held at the Portland Expo from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will cost $5 each; children under 12 will get in free.

Fellow BDN outdoors writer Aislinn Sarnacki and I will staff the company booth at the show, as will our editor, Aimee Thibodeau. We’ll be happy to talk to you about hunting, hiking, fishing, paddling or any other outdoor pursuit you enjoy.

And while we’ll certainly have a lot of fun meeting readers (and potential readers), we’re also looking forward to enjoying the varied offerings that our show will have.

I’ve seen the list … perhaps you have, too. And I guarantee you this: This won’t be like any other outdoor expo you’ve ever attended in Maine.

Among the highlights:

• Just for showing up, you’ll get the chance to win one of three fantastic door prizes.

You may win an Old Town Canoe.

You may win an Old Town Kayak.

You may win a whitewater rafting adventure for two from Three Rivers.

You could win a tandem skydive from Skydive New England.

Or you may win a $1,000 gift card to Kittery Trading Post.

Pretty good way to start, eh?

• You can also try the Maine-iac Challenge obstacle course, which is billed as “71 feet of grueling excitement.” In the photo I’ve seen, the course looks like a grown-up bounce house, complete with ramps, slides and places you’ll have to crawl and scramble. You’re invited to race a friend, a family member or an obliging stranger.

• If you like to climb, you can test your skills on a 25-foot, four-sided indoor climbing wall.

• If you’re more the bouncy type, we’ve got a treat for you: A four-station bungee trampoline.

The BDN Maine Outdoors Expo is sponsored by Alpenglow Adventure Sports, Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School and Acadia Mountain Guides Rock Climbing and Adventure Camps. The media sponsor is WGME.

As you’d expect of an outdoors expo, the show will also feature plenty of vendors and exhibitors who’ll be glad to chat about their favorite outdoor pursuits.

And if you want to learn a bit about some of those activities, or just want to hear some thrilling outdoor stories, our speakers will surely entertain and educate you. Our slate of speakers:

• According to John Holyoke’s job title, he’s the Outdoors Editor at the BDN. He’d tell you he’s a storyteller. For 20 years, he’s been entertaining readers with award-winning stories and columns about the people and critters he encounters in his travels, both here in Maine and beyond.

• Andrew Skurka, a well-known adventurer and hiker, will conduct a gear, supplies and skills clinic at 11 a.m. May 4.

• John Ford, author of “Suddenly, the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good,” is a former Maine game warden who has more humorous tales to tell than you can fit into an entire show. He’ll tell some of them at 1 p.m. May 4, and will be on hand to sign copies of his book.

• Bill Irwin, author of “Blind Courage,” has been an inspiration to thousands of hikers. Irwin is the only blind hiker to have completed the Appalachian Trail, with the help of his dog, Orient. Irwin speaks at 2 p.m. May 4.

• Skurka will return at 3:30 p.m. on May 4 to talk about circling Alaska and the Yukon.

• Jonathan Carter, the first Mainer to ever qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, will be on hand to talk bass fishing, share tips and sign autographs, at 5 p.m. May 4.

• BDN Maine outdoor writer Aislinn Sarnacki will kick off Sunday’s speakers. She’ll talk about her popular “1-minute Hike” series, and share some of her favorite Maine spots to hike, at 10:30 a.m. May 5.

• Paul Molyneaux and his son, Asher, thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in 2010, and in 2013 Molyneaux wrote a book commemorating that trip, “A Child’s Walk in the Wilderness.” He’ll speak at 11:30 a.m. May 5.

• Emily MacCabe is an outdoor educator for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife who will talk about the state’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, at 1 p.m. May 5.

• Thor Emery, owner and lead instructor at ThorFinn Expeditions, will talk about stand-up paddle boarding, at 2 p.m. May 5.

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.