While the 2008 Bassmaster Classic contenders are on Lake Hartwell, thousands of fishing fans are expected at the Carolina First Center in Greenville, S.C., for the three-day Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo (show hours are listed below).
The expo is considered one of the top consumer shows of the year, partly because of the spillover of the intense Classic energy, partly because exhibitors are known to debut their newest products but mostly because it’s always fun.
New boats, thousands of fishing products and great deals on outdoor gear aren’t the only attractions of the show. Exhibitors offer contests, interactive displays, appearances by top bass pros and many other one-of-a-kind events.
Classic sponsors lead the way in that department. Toyota will present its Toyota Outdoor Tour, which includes a Casting Challenge, the Tundra simulator and opportunities for fans to have their photos taken with the Bassmaster Classic trophy. Toyota will also run its popular Toyota Prove-It, adjacent to the Carolina First Center, where fans can drive Tundras or Sequoias. Additionally, fans who donate one can of food at the Toyota exposition space will be entered to win a chance to fish with a Toyota Tundra sponsored Bassmaster Elite Series pro following an Elite event.
At the Advance Auto Parts booth, fans can play a Nintendo Wii fishing game or inspect the company’s popular tricked-out truck. Lowrance, Mercury, Skeeter and Yamaha will demonstrate their cutting-edge models. Skeeter also will give fans the chance to register to win a jersey autographed by a pro, while Yamaha will conduct seminars.
At the Purolator booth, the Big Bass Fan $5,000 contest will offer fans a chance to be “paired” with the 25 final-day contenders. A $5,000 prize will be awarded to the fan paired with the Classic contender who weighs in the biggest fish Feb. 24.
At the Berkley booth, fans can put their names in the hat for a chance to be selected as the Berkley Cast for Cash contestant. If successful, the caster, who must be present at the Feb. 23 weigh-in at the Bi-Lo Center when his or her name is drawn, will win $50,000 for landing a practice plug inside a 12-inch-diameter target.
Show visitors can learn how to get the best action from Berkley baits by watching lures get put through their paces in the Berkley Tank, and witness Master Youth Anglers receiving their awards of Berkley rods.
The Expo also will be the venue for the preliminary national finals of the Bassmaster CastingKids competition at 11 a.m. ET Feb. 23. Later that day, at 2:15 p.m., the kids will move to the Bi-Lo Center, where the finalists in two age groups will flip, pitch and cast to targets to win scholarship money. Additionally, at the Expo’s Kid’s Zone, children will find plenty of entertaining activity.
Expo activities also will celebrate BASS’ 40th anniversary, and BASS members will receive special treatment at the show. The first 100 members to arrive at the Expo will receive a gift, and all members are eligible for a 5 percent discount on merchandise. Members of the BASS Federation Nation and Life Members are eligible for more benefits, including use of a lounge at the Carolina First Center.
The first 50 kids to the expo each day will receive a free gift, courtesy of Skeeter and Yamaha, and the first 100 adults will receive a free gift, courtesy of BASS. Other giveaways include a Walt Disney World vacation package, complete with a fishing trip with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Preston Clark.
No one attending the show will have to wonder what’s happening on Lake Hartwell. The Webcast show Hooked Up will provide hourly updates with leaderboards through live feeds into the BASS booth at the Expo.
The 2008 Bassmaster Classic will be hosted by the Greenville Convention & Visitors Bureau. The tournament will receive 13 hours of television coverage on ESPN2.
2008 Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo
Carolina First Center
1 Exposition Ave., Greenville, S.C.
Noon-9 p.m., Feb. 22
10 a.m.-6 p.m., Feb. 23
10 a.m.-4 p.m., Feb. 24
Official sponsors for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic: Toyota Tundra, Advance Auto Parts, Berkley, Purolator, Mercury, Lowrance, Skeeter and Yamaha.