Three’s Certainly Not a Crowd

The name Fred Hall reverberates throughout March, as three outdoor shows turn Southern and Central California into a boating and outdoor experience.

 Las year the Fred Hall experience, which was already a long established presence on the Southern California show scene, expanded its reach — numbers-wise and geographically — with the addition of the Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show in Bakersfield. While a third show certainly keeps show planners on their toes, it’s a boon for many folks who might not have made the trip to Long Beach or Del Mar for the other two shows.

The Bakersfield show has a 40-year history, mostly as an outdoors and RV show, and the Fred Hall folks have kept that vibe intact while bringing boats into the show in a big way. Instead of one dealer having the boating category exclusive, there will be dozens and dozens of boats from various dealers and manufacturers. Plus, given the Fred Hall legacy as premier fishing shows, an entire hall will be dedicated to the category.

And let’s not forget the two long-standing Fred Hall shows, the ones in Long Beach and at the Del Mar
Fairgrounds in San Diego County, that are now guided by the second generation of the Hall family and owned by the Duncan McIntosh Co. Since 1946 the Long Beach show has been the go-to Southern California show for anglers, hunters and boaters, and while the Del Mar show didn’t debut until 30 years after Long Beach, this year marks its 41st run, so its history is long too.

Between the three shows, thousands of exhibitors will display wares that appeal to all manner of outdoor types. Fishing and hunting equipment will be so ubiquitous that nobody should leave the shows thinking, “You know, I wish they’d had product X, Y or Z.” If the show doesn’t have it, it might not exist.

In addition, anyone looking for an education can get it at the Fred Hall shows. Over the course of the 13 days that encompass all three events, more than 600 seminars will be conducted. Pretty much every hour an educational opportunity is taking place, mostly free of charge. Want to learn how to cook your catch, maintain a reel, choose the right rod-and-reel combo, fi sh from a kayak, catch a specific species of fish that has managed to elude you? Then pay attention to the seminar schedule, because chances are good the topic will be addressed.

All three shows are presented by Progressive Insurance. The Central Valley Sports Show takes place March 2-4, the Long Beach Show runs from March 7-11, and the San Diego Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds runs from March 22-25. See the full schedule, find dates, times and admission prices, and view directions at

While the sheer number of exhibits and seminars and workshops is enough to keep attendees busy for hours, the shows have even more going on — something for everyone in the family. Two of the most memorable activities involve sharp objects and the carefully choreographed use of said objects. This year, attendees of all three Fred Hall shows can witness the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show and Jack Dagger. The Paul Bunyan Show consists of professional lumberjacks competing in axe throwing, underhand chopping, chainsaw carving and other activities. Jack Dagger mixes humor and precision knife throwing — the former aimed at the crowd, the latter aimed at an assistant — in a show that should entertain the family.

For the kids, don’t miss the casting contests, air gun demonstrations, face painting and the Mammoth Lakes Kids Fish Free Trout Pond. Kids love dogs (adults do, too), and there are a couple of interesting events featuring our canine friends. The Ultimate Air Dogs will entertain at Long Beach and Del Mar, and the Dock Dogs West Coast Challenge will occur during the Bakersfield show.

Some of the more adult-friendly attractions include the Hobie Kayak on-water demo rides and the Custom Rod Builders Depot, both at Long Beach. Costa Sporting Chef Café cooking demonstrations will take place at all three shows, and anglers can take their turn in the Daiwa Bass Tank. At the Bakersfield show, attendees can watch the sand drag races and check out the Super Cruise vintage car show (Saturday).