endors travel from all around for annual sport, outdoor show in the Monroeville Convention Center

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Hunters, fishermen and other outdoors enthusiasts can prepare for their next wilderness adventure at the 28th annual Allegheny Sport, Travel and Outdoor Show, which continues through Sunday at the Monroeville Convention Center.

The expo, which opened Wednesday, features more than 200 vendors, as well as demonstrations, educational opportunities and activities for the whole family. Hours are today, Thursday, 3 to 9 p.m.; Friday, noon to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., show producer Chris Fassnacht said.

“It will be a full show with tons of seminars,” Fassnacht said. “It's wildly popular with sportsmen and families.”

The event, produced by Expositions Inc., will feature a large “cross-section of exhibitors” local, national and international, Fassnacht said. Some vendors even will be traveling as far away as Alaska-based Hodge's Outfitters or South Africa's Ultimate Hunting Safaris, Fassnacht said.

Vendors will be featuring fishing and hunting equipment, boats, camping items, other outdoor-related gear and travel opportunities, he said.

Locally, the Steel City Rowing Club, a nonprofit organization in Verona, is exhibiting for the first year to spread the word about the benefits of rowing, Dori Tompa, the club's executive director said.

“It's a lifelong sport because it's nonimpact and develops friendships and camaraderie that you'll never imagine,” said Tompa, a former indoor-rowing world champion and the holder of eight national titles.

In addition to rowing outdoors, Tompa said, the club has a three-story location it uses for a host of indoor rowing and nonrowing fitness classes. It also runs outdoor camps for youths and adults.

Tompa, of Verona, said the club also is focused on teaching about the importance of wildlife and river conservation, which is an emphasis of many of its youth camps.

At the show, Tompa said, the club will have various equipment to familiarize expo patrons about activities for recreation on the rivers, including a stand-up paddleboard, rowing boat and oars. And staff will be on hand to answer questions.

“There's really nothing like it as a way to exercise,” said Tompa, 46.

Speaker and vendor Tim Wood of Aquatic Edge Consulting, based in Greensburg, also is focused on water quality, as he will discuss “How to Manage Toxic Algae in Lakes and Ponds” on Saturday at 7 p.m. on Stage 2.

“They'll learn how to identify which type of algae is harmful and which harmless,” said Wood, who also will have a booth with products and information on water management.

He said he is coming back to the show for the second year after having good results as a vendor at last year's event. Wood, 33, of Greensburg, also provides pond and lake landscaping, as well as water-quality consulting throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Other speakers include Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife conservation officer Gary Fujak on deer hunting, Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Stage 2; Speaker Robb Rusiewicz of Safari Club International on “Planning Your First African Safari,” Saturday at 3 p.m. on Stage 2; and Pennsylvania bass fishermant Dennis Tubbs on “Jigging for Bass,” Sunday at noon on Stage 1, according to a show schedule.

Overall, there will be more than 20 speakers and demonstrations from today through Sunday.

Fassnacht, 54, of Cleveland, said because the event is designed to be a family-oriented show, it will have lots of activities for children, including the Wild World of Animals exotic animal show today, at 6 p.m.; Friday, at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, at 12:30 and 6 p.m.; and Sunday, at 11 a.m., all on Stage 1.

Other visitors include Pittsburgh Steeler Doug Legursky from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, as well as the Pirate Parrot of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1 to 2 p.m. that day, Fassnacht said.

As with most expos, there will be plenty of giveaways, too, including a free life jacket for children from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

And as weather always plays a factor in outdoor adventures, staff from the National Weather Service location in Moon Township will be at the show to discuss how to prepare for and respond to extreme weather conditions at 11:30 a.m. Saturday on Stage 2.

Tickets to the show cost $10 for those ages 13 and older and must be bought with cash. Children ages 12 and younger are admitted for free. Coupons for $2 off admission are available at local McDonald's restaurants.

For the third year, The River's Edge Canoe & Kayak LLC in Leechburg will be a vendor at the show.

The business, owned by Evelyn and Neill Andritz, sells and rents canoes and kayaks along the Kiskiminetas River.

“It's just a diverse nature of outdoor enthusiasts. They come from all over. It's a fantastic recreational and sporting goods (event),” said Neill Andritz, 45, of Avonmore, about why he has returned as a vendor.

The Andritzes plan to bring approximately 10 recreational and fishing kayaks and canoes to display, including models from Jackson Kayak and the NuCanoe Frontier. They also will have a stand-up paddleboard, a newer trend for river sports.

“They're a little better of a workout. It tests your balance and works your core,” Neill Andritz said.

He said anyone who orders a craft at the show will receive a free paddle, an approximately $100 value.

Andritz and his wife will be happy to answer any questions about kayaking and boating on the local rivers, he said.

He encourages those who are unsure about whether kayaking is for them to rent one.

“Most people will absolutely love it the first time,” he said.

Those who enjoy fishing can cast their lines at the show's indoor trout-fishing pond, a returning popular feature at the show, Fassnacht said.

“If that wasn't there, they would be screaming,” he said.

Natalie Beneviat is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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