On March 11th, Andy and I set out for Madison, Wisconsin for Canoecopia, the world’s largest paddle sports show. This is Bearskin’s second year there and this year, because of outfitting, it seemed like even more of a no-brainer to attend. Of the shows that I’ve been to, nothing really compares to Canoecopia. The sheer number of people who come to look at canoe and kayak gear is almost overwhelming. Hordes of paddling enthusiasts fill the convention center which hosts it, and at times the current of people flowing down the aisles and rows is so powerful that it’s nearly impossible to make any headway against it. Determined to talk to as many people as possible, Andy and I stayed sheltered in the eddy of our booth, and over the period of three days probably issued over a thousand friendly hellos.
Mark Morgen, a Bearskin guest and canoe builder, must be thanked for bringing one of his beautiful cedar strip canoes to the show and displaying it at our booth. Mark builds canoes under the name of St. Croix Canoes, and has a website, stcroixcanoes.com. If you’ve been to Bearskin recently, you may have noticed one of his canoes on display at the lodge. Mark stuck around at the booth for much of the show, and from a social standpoint, provided Andy and me some relief from each other.
Canoecopia is also a wonderful time to talk to other people in the industry, and to shop for some new gear. I picked up a big, heavy duty moving water paddle that can take abuse and move a lot of water. For Kate I bought a pair of Neoprene mittens that make her hands look like those of a penguin. They also have the added effect of keeping her hands warm and dry.
This year Canoecopia served as the film premier for a new paddling film, entitled “This is Canoeing.” The film consists of many short segments on individual paddlers, including a piece on our musher Erik Simula’s birch bark canoe trip this summer. I was lucky enough to get to paddle the filmmaker around while she filmed this segment, and it was nice to catch up with her again at the show.
For Bearskin, the show seemed very successful. We were able to talk to a lot of people about staying at Bearskin, and also make some good paddle sport industry connections.