Wednesday, March 16, 2016


We’ve been talking for three years about making the trip to Canoecopia.  We always enjoyed the trade shows.  Being from the Chesapeake, we went to the Annapolis Sailboat Show for decades.  We were even there when they rolled out the new Cruising World Magazine, and we became charter subscribers.  Now Cruising World is arguably the standard in the sailing world.  We also got cornered in a pub one evening by a recruiter/fundraiser for the Irish Republican Liberation Army, who was seeking funds for guns.  The more he drank, the scarier the stories and threats became.  We weren’t looking for that level of excitement on this trip, but the trade shows are always fun, and living in the desert, we have missed the crowds of like-minded people.

For those of you not familiar with Canoecopia, it is an annual paddling industry show that is held each March in Madison, WI.  What is promoted as the world’s largest paddlesports expo in the world is organized and sponsored by Rutabaga Paddlesports.  At least 20,000 paddlers, campers, fishermen, and photographers attend every year during the three-day event.  There are basically two sides to the expo.
The greatest thing about the shows is you get one-on-one contact
with the staff and instructors of any supplier, manufacturer, or
outfitter.  Here, we spoke with staff and instructors from  Camp
Manito-wish.  If you wish to send your child to an established program,
you get to have all your concerns addressed by the people actually working
with your child.  This camp, by the YMCA, in Boulder Junction, WI,
has been in operation since 1947.

This was the new Chesapeake Light Craft tear-drop camper.  It was
a big draw, and I had to run in early Sunday morning to get a picture
when people weren't crawling all over and in and out.  It really was nice.

The trade side of the show is where booths are manned by the experts from every canoe, kayak, SUP, camping gear, boat rack, sports apparel, paddle maker, and fishing gear manufacturer you can name.  This gives you the chance to be educated about and try on drysuits, paddles, and boats that you may have previously only seen pictures of, and compare them side-by-side.  There are also well known authors that you can meet, talk with, and even get a book signed by.  There are unusual things to see like the log canoe that paddled around Lake Michigan, or the newly designed and built teardrop trailer built by Chesapeake Light Craft.  You can meet any number of guides and outfitters that will introduce you to their paddling or fishing areas, or you can meet representatives from any number of national and state parks, paddling trails, like the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, scouting, paddling instruction, paddling clubs, and gosh, just name it.  You can also meet and discuss concerns with people working to protect our lands and waters from those like Friends of the Boundary Waters, the Apostle Islands, the Wisconsin River, Florida waters, and the Sierra Club.  For the first-timer, walking through the doors to the exhibition hall is a bit intimidating and overwhelming, but with the map of the hall and show guide in hand, it doesn’t take long to settle in.

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