By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Hobbyists and fanatics of outdoor activities will find Indian River County to be a veritable Mecca on Aug. 25 and 26.
Whether it's water sports, hunting, archery, fishing, hiking, camping, boating or even taxidermy, the outdoor enthusiast will find something to ooh and ahh over at the Florida Outdoors Expo at the Indian River County Fairgrounds on Aug. 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is a $6 entry fee, but children 12 and younger will be admitted free, said event coordinator David Dangerfield.
The event will be a partial benefit for the Indian River County firefighters' benevolent fund, which firefighters use throughout the year to make contributions back to the community, he said.
The Florida Outdoors Expo website offers a $1 discount to individuals who purchase their entry fees ahead of time.
Special guest Paul Bedard of the Animal Planet show "Gator Boys" will be on hand to take photos and sign autographs at the event, Mr. Dangerfield said.
Mr. Bedard and his partner, Jimmy Riffle, are alligator trappers that hand capture nuisance gators in the backyards, swimming pools, garages and bedrooms of residents in and around the Everglades in South Florida, according to the show's website.
"It will be great," Mr. Dangerfield said.
Youth ages 17 and younger will have the opportunity to try target shooting with a special air gun program, sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will have introduction to archery and bow hunting programs onsite, Mr. Dangerfield said.
"Kids can come out all day and shoot with instructors right there," he said.
An advanced archery class will be offered for free, but it is limited to 30 people each day and online pre-registration on the expo website is required, Mr. Dangerfield said.
Vendors for all the outdoor recreational activities, including guns and knives, will be at the expo. Monster truck rides around the fairgrounds will be given for a nominal fee.
Demonstrations for casting, fly fishing and knot tying will also occur at various times of the day.
During the event, a concealed weapons class will be offered and given by a licensed NRA instructor. The course can be taken without having electronic fingerprinting, notarized paperwork or a passport photo at a reduced rate.
Cash or credit card is acceptable payment for the class at the show.
The training lasts two hours and will be offered three times a day.
Successful completion of the class reduces the state permit fee from $117 to $75.
"I think it's an expected thing that we have a class. We could have people here who have been thinking about it, or they want their wife to have one, and we'll have the class available," Mr. Dangerfield said.
"It's a right you have whether you utilize it or not," he said.
For more information about the Florida Outdoors Expo, call Mr. Dangerfield at (772) 321-5577 or visit www.floridaoutdoorsexpo.com.