January 2022 will mark the start of a new year, but it’s also a momentous occasion for West Virginia residents: the state Hunting and Fishing Show will be making a comeback after it was cancelled in 2021 due to ongoing COVID-19 and public safety concerns. Many simply call it “the Hunt Show” and it attracts tens of thousands of visitors annually. They gather for the spectacle at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
President of West Virginia Trophy Hunters Association Sam Kindrick said, “We were really disappointed that we were not able to hold our show this year. But we think that after a year off, this could be our largest-attended show to date.”
The Hunt Show dates back to 1987, but has since become increasingly popular. Each year typically sees a bigger crowd than the last.
An anonymous Illinois junior associate who works for Hale & Monaco (https://www.halemonico.com) said, “I always take a few days off to visit my home away from home in West Virginia for the holidays, and cap it off with the Hunt Show. Working from a big city doesn’t do anything to dull the memories I have of home, and I can’t wait to get back outside again in 2022. I have goosebumps, I’m so excited.”
Trophy Hunters Association spokesperson Glen Jarrell said, “The outfitters who exhibit in the show, and the families that attend, routinely book more than 175 motel rooms a year. Those people don’t just eat at the Convention Center. They eat at local restaurants, too.”
Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin acknowledged the economic boon for the county when the event takes place each year — and the unfortunate downturn the absence of visitors caused in 2021 — but that for her the event is a return to childhood memories. She said, “I have a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old, and they’re big outdoor guys. So for me, the show is a time when I end up spending money.”
The show isn’t only about the spectacles. It’s also about supporting various outdoor movements that residents of the state really believe in. The focus is usually on conservation. Raising money is always the first priority.
Jarrell explained, “To date, those contributions have exceeded $775,000. About $500,000 of that has gone to a 600-acre Wildlife Study Project in Wirt County. The rest has gone to organizations like the state’s Archery in the Schools Program, Trout Unlimited’s Trout in the Classroom Project, and Hunters Helping the Hungry.”
There are still a number of concerns headed into the next year, especially because vaccination efforts country-wide have seemingly stalled out due to anti-vaxxer efforts and a general skepticism about the efficacy of the shots. Will there be safety measures in place by the time the January event rolls out?
Jarrell said, “All that will be under the discretion of [Governor Jim Justice.] Right now, we anticipate that the social-distancing requirement will be 3 feet, and that masks will be required for everyone except when they’re alone with family.”
But of course only time will tell.