For the thousands who passed through the Spokane Convention Center over the weekend to check out this year’s Great Outdoors and Bike Expo, it didn’t matter if it was 30 degrees and windy outside – their minds were already springing forward.
In its second year, the expo featured dozens of vendors ranging from mountain bike stores to rock climbing gyms. There were stand-up paddle board instructors, sportswear retailers, conservation groups, zip line tour guides, and outdoor enthusiasts to go with them.
“It helps people get stoked for spring, for sun,” event organizer Derrick Knowles said. “Excited for hiking and biking season.”
Clustered together with the neighboring Spokane Golf Show, an estimated 5,000 people perused the shops and signed up for outdoorsy fun once the weather improves.
Some sat and listened to pro tips for identifying and recreating safely with wildlife. Others heard from former Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder that Washington might have the best trails in the country.
Knowles, who co-owns Outdoor Magazine with his wife, Shallan, said since its inaugural launch last year the expo has grown by about 30 percent.
“We hope that continues,” he said.
The event had plenty to see, but the biggest draw – especially for the younger crowd – was a group from the Idaho Trails Association showing off a large two-person crosscut saw that tore its way through a log.
Kids in the crowd clamored for a chance to pull their way through the wood and take a souvenir stump home with them.
“Hold it steady,” president Tom Dabrowski said to a young boy. “Now pull!”
Dabrowski and crew have come to the expo the past two years to recruit new volunteers for their already 1,100-person crew that helps build and maintain nonmotorized trails across the state of Idaho.
As for the crosscut saw, it’s the same type they use to fell trees and remove logs in the forests. This particular specimen was more than 70 years old.
“We don’t use chainsaws,” Dabrowski said. “You can see these, even little kids can use them. Everybody gets to saw.”
Ava Bishop, a 7-year-old with thick glasses and blonde hair, struggled with the blade, but with some help was able to make quick work of the log in no time.
“It was fun,” she said.
Her parents, Dan and Nicole Bishop, drove the family from Moses Lake to spend the weekend in Spokane. There were other draws in the city that kept their attention, but the main one and their reason for coming was the expo.
Ben Bishop, 9, said he like fishing, biking and hunting. The whole family, in fact, preferred the out-of-doors to inside. Especially swimming.
“So far, it’s everything,” Dan Bishop said of the expo. “The kids really liked the climbing wall. It was awesome.”
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