WASILLA — The Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show kicks off this Friday inside Raven Hall at the Alaska State Fairgrounds.
With major outdoor shows canceled across the state due to COVID-19, event organizer Matt Rowley anticipates a particularly high turnout of event-hungry Alaskan attendees from Anchorage and even beyond.
“People are hungry to get out. Everybody’s tired of this stay-at-home stuff… We’re doing it as much for the vendors as anybody else,” Rowley said.
The Outdoorsman Show will have a wide array of vendors along with 20 different food trucks over the weekend. Rowley said there’s going to be several raffles, seminars, and other festivities within this annual shopping event.
“So, this is really the only outdoor sporting show that’s gonna be going on. So, we do expect a fairly large crowd,” Rowley said.
The Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show is usually held at the Menard Sports Center, but that wasn’t an option this year, according to Rowley. He said there’s a number of COVID-19 mitigation efforts in place such as offering hand sanitization stations throughout the building and offering masks to those who need them.
“We’re expecting personal responsibility. Everybody knows what COVID is. Everybody knows what they should be doing to stay safe from COVID. We are expecting people to be responsible. If somebody’s sick, we want them to stay home,” Rowley said.
According to Rowley, the Outdoorsman show has been going on for at least 15 years. He said that he took over the event two years ago through his company, Mat-Su Events with his wife, Sue.
“This is our way of sharing the love of the outdoors with the rest of the state. My name is Matt, her name is Sue, so we figured that’d be a good thing for the Mat-Su show,” Rowley said with a laugh.
Rowley said they weren’t able to put it on last year because of the virus, but they’re looking forward to the opportunity to finally get the chance to keep this coveted event going.
Rowley said they’ve worked with companies like the Alaska Raceway Park and Denali Harley Davidson to put on community events. He said they’re planning to host another summer festival with Alaska Raceway this summer. They’re also hosting a stand-up comedy show at Denali Harley Davidson in May with more on the way.
Looking forward, Rowley said they’re working to maintain and grow the Outdoorsman Show for years to come, working with whatever the pandemic throws at everybody.
“It’ll be somewhere… It’s a Valley tradition. Usually, it’s the first outdoorsman show of the year,” Rowley said. “It’ll just continue to get bigger and better every year.”
The Outdoorsman Show runs on Friday from 12 to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets cost $7 and admission is free for children under 8 and active military families. For more information, visit matsuoutdoorsmanshow.com
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org