The Fred Hall Shows celebrate the past, present and future in 2016
BART HALL HAS AN EARLY memory of the Fred Hall Show — the Southern California institution founded by his father, the eponymous Fred — a couple of them, actually. They come from back when the show was at the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles. He recalls Howard Hill, the world-famous archer who was an African big game hunter, doing demonstrations at the show. Young Bart even got a lesson from the legend. It was that same year, Hall recalls, that he had his picture taken with Roy Rogers, the show’s spokesman. They were atop Trigger, Rogers’ famous horse, the TV star himself dressed in his cowboy attire.
These days, Hall is the show’s second-generation producer, in charge of the show, which is almost three quarters of a century old, along with its younger sister show in San Diego. Since 1946, the Hall family has been showcasing the latest and greatest in fishing, hunting, boating and travel products, accessories and gear. From a humble beginning, the Fred Hall Show has grown to become a premier outdoor show — two shows, actually. The Del Mar Fairgrounds location was added in 1977 and has been expanding ever since. Between the two shows, there will be thousands of exhibitors with products for the hardcore angler, hunter and boater. And other displays and events are designed for the entire family.
Fred Hall has always been synonymous with fishing, hunting and boating. Through the years, the show has refined its focus, eliminating the large RV section it had while at the Great Western Exhibit Center, and going from a “sportsman’s show” to a “fishing tackle and boat show.” The tagline now reads The Ultimate Outdoor Experience, and 2016’s theme is Celebrate the Passion. The idea was to focus on the passionate pursuits of fishing, boating and hunting, the latter of which has always been a big part of the Fred Hall Show, as 50 percent of the attendees hunt. In fact, a major element of the show are the exhibitors who focus on international travel for fishing and hunting.
SO MUCH TO SEE & DO
There’s always a lot to take in when visiting Fred Hall, and while consistency is a hallmark of the events, Bart Hall listed a few new things to see. Because it’s the 70th anniversary show — 70 years! — there will be an archive of old Fred Hall Show photos throughout the convention center, so keep your eyes peeled while walking through the maze of vendor aisles. Returning this year is the beloved Bongo’s Fashion Show, called such because it was run by Bongo’s Sport Fishing in Newport Beach. The late Pat Raiit was the inspiration for the fashion show, and bringing it back will honor her. Visitors will enjoy the show, one of the most popular features of Fred Hall shows past.
Returning after a 10-year hiatus from Fred Hall is Frank Addington Jr., aka The Aspirin Buster. He shoots an arrow and splits a baby aspirin in midair.
This year’s shows will feature more boats and exhibitors than ever before. The Del Mar show has grown by 25 percent in the last two years, according to Hall. And with fishing in Southern California being as spectacular as it’s been in recent history, more anglers will need the gear and know-how to get out on the water and find success there. The hourly seminars and workshops — nearly 600 of them — are a big reason people come to the shows every year. They range from tackle and hunting seminars to cooking demonstrations.
The Del Mar location is the exclusive host of the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show, a one-of-a-kind attraction that features professional lumberjacks competing in various skill tests, including axe throwing, underhand chopping, one-man crosscut sawing, precision chainsaw racing, dragster chainsaws and chainsaw carving. The Long Beach location has an exclusive kayak seminar and presentation in the Hyatt Lagoon for Hobie, which will be giving demonstration rides and information about kayak fishing for fresh and salt water.
Some of the must-see attractions, especially for younger anglers, include the Mammoth Lakes Kids Fish Free Trout Pond, kids casting contests, archery and air gun demonstrations, the Great American Duck Races, Ultimate Air Dogs and casting demonstrations just for the kids. The family can get together and share a passion for the outdoors.
The show will be at the Long Beach Convention Center March 2-6, and at the Del Mar Fairgrounds March 17-20. Fred Hall Shows (fredhall.com) are presented by Progressive Insurance.