Early Bird Sports Expo returns to Bloomsburg Fairgrounds Jan. 27-30 with more than 110 vendors, events
Concerns over the pandemic and uncertainty about ownership led to the difficult decision last spring to cancel the 2021 Early Bird Sports.
However, new owners Jarrett and Jenna Swartz, of Bloomsburg, refused to let the cancellation completely end efforts for the annual show, held for more than three decades in Bloomsburg.
“We got busy right away in the spring (of 2021) sending contracts to previous vendors and reaching out to new options,” said Jenna. “Our goal was 100 vendors and on Christmas Day, just one month before the show, we still had about 80. We had reached out to so many people so many times, and it was frustrating in thinking we wouldn’t be able to make this work.”
Through “prayer and working extremely hard,” however, the Swartz family is excited to welcome more than 110 vendors, and potentially thousands of guests, to what will be the 2022 Early Bird Expo at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds starting Thursday, Jan. 27, through Sunday, Jan. 30.
Their first test in the ownership role was how to handle the 2021 show in the middle of a global pandemic.
“There was too much uncertainty of if we would have a good turn-out. It wasn’t about us, it was about our vendors,” said Jenna. “Would it be worth renting buildings, paying thousands for advertising and not having a good turn-out? We made the difficult decision six weeks before the show to stop planning and proceed with cancelling.”
Fortunately, their efforts since that announcement have paid off with a full slate of events and a full contingent of vendors filling three different buildings at the fairgrounds next week.
“We brought back the 3D archery and paper shoot,” said Jenna. “There are a ton of activities for kids and adults alike – axe throwing, Nerf gun archery, a hunter safety course (along with laser tag and a duck toss game for the kids), specialty coffee, a brewery and even wine (for the adults).”
Beyond that will be the growing list of outdoors-related vendors – at 112 currently – across three buildings. Hunting and fishing outfitters, taxidermists, sportsman associations, ATV dealers, guide services and nonprofit organizations covering a wide variety of important topics.
“It’s winter and people are itching to go fishing,” said Brian Swingle, owner of Five Mountain Outfitters of Shickshinny, who plans to have a lot available at his booth. “We’ll have Crescent and NuCanoe kayaks on display, some Temple Fork Outfitters fishing rods and hundreds of discounted lures.”
The Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association will be one of the nonprofits in attendance. The booth will include information on how the association is engaging, educating and empowering people to work together to improve water quality. A hands-on macroinvertebrate activity is planned, as is a poster contest for kids and a variety of association merchandise will be available for sale, including the new Sentinels of the Susquehanna book – a 285-page paperback with more than 50 stories and 100 images about a wide range of issues and efforts impacting the river. Also available will be Songs of the Susquehanna CDs, neck gaiters and ball caps with the association’s logo.
“I hope a good number of folks can get out and come join us at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds for a time of relaxation and a chance to exchange stories of the great outdoors and to renew those old friendships,” said Hunter. “See you there!”
The show runs 3-8 p.m. Thursday (Jan. 27), 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7 for those ages 13 and up and free for everyone 12 and under. Parking is free.
Senior citizens 65 and older get a discounted admission on Friday from 10-2 p.m. At that time, admission is $5 for seniors.
Military with ID get in free daily. If they choose, they can still pay the $7 admission by donating it to PA Wounded Warriors. At the end of the show, money collected will be presented to the group, which helps wounded veterans who are in financial crisis and assists them with morale-enhancing events.
For a full list of this year’s vendors and other information about the show, visit EarlyBirdExpo.net
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John Zaktansky is an award-winning journalist and avid promoter of the outdoors who loves camping, kayaking, fishing and hunting with the family.