West Virginia’s hunters and anglers will have to find something different to do in late January.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizers to cancel the 2021 edition of the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show, which had been scheduled to take place Jan. 21-23 at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.
Glen Jarrell, a spokesman for the West Virginia Trophy Hunters Association, said his organization had no choice but to cancel the event.
“Our board of directors made the decision late last week,” he said “There was just too much virus-related uncertainty to go ahead with it.”
Jarrell said about 50% of the show’s 200 exhibitors and vendors had already reserved booths for the three-day event.
“Those folks will have the option to receive refunds, or they can re-book for 2022,” he added.
The show, first held in 1987, consistently attracted 12,000 to 15,000 people every year. The Trophy Hunters Association used the proceeds to fund the club’s operations and to support causes that ranged from conservation organizations to youth-in-the-outdoors initiatives.
“Since the word [about the cancellation] started getting out, we’ve been getting calls from organizations like the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center, which exhibits at the show to let the public know what they do and to promote their cause,” Jarrell said.
“Without the money we make from the show, we won’t be able to make our usual contributions to programs like Trout in the Classroom, Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, Archery in the Schools and the Putnam County Youth Day.”
Hunters and anglers from around the area also counted on the show to have personal contact with guides and outfitters from throughout North America and southern Africa.
“I’m going to go out on a limb here,” Jarrell said. “If anyone needs to contact an outfitter or a vendor, they should call them directly. If they don’t have the number, they can call me at 304-925-5091 and I can get the number for them.”
He lamented that the people who stand to miss the show the most are the people who attend it every year.
“That’s who we put the event on for. Local folks come to the show to look at all the new gear, to book hunts, and to hang out with friends. It’s a shame for them that we had to cancel.”