A recent spate of sunny days has reminded us Vitamin D-starved Pacific Northwest denizens of fairer weather and turned imaginations toward spring and summer adventures.
While that is most certainly premature, for those longing for uninterrupted sun and warmer temperatures, consider checking out the Spokane Great Outdoors & Bike Expo next weekend.
“It’s kind of the kickoff for the warmer spring summer outdoor season,” said Derrick Knowles, the publisher of Out There Outdoors, which sponsors the show.
In its fourth year, the expo celebrates and highlights outdoor recreation and travel throughout the region. This year, there are more than 70 exhibits and activities.
While it’s all done indoors, Knowles said the goal is to replicate the real deal. For example, at the center of the show is an REI campground where participants can roast s’mores and listen to free educational clinics.
The weekend also includes bouldering, bike demos and more.
While it’s certainly geared toward fun, many of the exhibits focus on skills and knowledge necessary to safely recreate outside.
That includes Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife presentations on wildlife safety and respectful and ethical wildlife photography.
Additionally, Be Bear Aware, from Missoula, will teach participants how to use bear spray correctly.
As usual, there will be plenty of activities for kids, Knowles said, buying parents time to check out whatever they like. That includes a reading and puppet show by local author Joseph Drumheller.
For the second year, there will be the Outdoor Dog Fashion Show.
Participants can also watch a two local bike mechanics battle to see who can fix a bike flat tire the fastest.
For couples looking to test their communication and patience, there will be a Big Agnes tent pitching competition, with the winning couple taking home the tent. There will also be more than $4,000 in gear giveaways, Knowles said.
“It’s just good motivation,” Knowles said of the entire show. “It helps inspire people to get out earlier.”
Below is a partial list of the events offered.
9 a.m. Free camp coffee. Join REI in the central camp-themed gathering area for a cup of camp coffee.
10:15 a.m. Flat fix face-off. Watch two mechanics from local bike shops race to fix a flat as fast as they can.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Free s’mores in the REI campground.
11:10-11:35 a.m.: Outdoor-themed story reading and puppet show. Award-winning author Drumheller will give an outdoor-themed presentation for kids 4-8, including book readings and an interactive puppet show.
11: 40 a.m.: Camp knots. Learn knots that will help make your next outdoor adventure more fun and enjoyable.
12:40 p.m.: Backcountry cooking. Check out the latest camp cooking gear and learn how to create culinary delights in the backcountry.
1:10-1:50 p.m.: Respectful and ethical wildlife photos and photography. WDFW biologist Candace Bennett will provide tips on how to get good shots, recommend basic photography equipment and settings, all while not disturbing the animals. She will also address the ethical aspect of wildlife photography.
1:40 p.m.: Water treatment. Try different water filters and learn how to use them properly.
2:10-2:30 p.m.: Using bear spray the right way. Learn why bear spray has failed to work in some instances and how other people here in the Northwest have used bear spray to effectively protect themselves.
2:40 p.m.: Hammocking 101. Learn how to use the best hammock gear and to set a hammock correctly.
3:10-3:35 p.m.: Outdoor-themed story reading and puppet show.
4:15 p.m.: Tent-pitching contest. Watch two couples face-off to pitch a Big Agnes tent as fast as they can. To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Tent Pitching Contest” in the subject line and explain why you should be one of the couples.
10 a.m.: Free camp coffee.
10:10-10:55 p.m.: Wildlife safety: Play smart in bear and cougar country. While bears and cougars are like every other wild animal and mostly make themselves scarce in the presence of humans, there are some steps to avoid having negative interactions with them when recreating in nature. WDFW biologist Annemarie Prince will draw from her training and extensive time in the woods to share how to avoid running into predators, what to do if you do, and dispel some common misconceptions.
11 a.m to 3 p.m.: Free s’mores in the REI campground.
11:10-11:35 a.m.: Outdoor-themed story reading and puppet show.
11:40 p.m.: Bike-packing basics. Learn how to prepare and pack for a camping trip with your bike.
12:40 p.m.: Navigation basics. Learn the basics of finding your way.
1:10-1:30 p.m.: Using bear spray the right way.
1:40 p.m.: How to fix a bike tire flat. This basic flat-fixing clinic may keep you from getting stranded with your bike miles from home.
3 p.m.: Outdoor dog fashion show. Celebrate canine friends in a dog show with a focus on outdoor gear, tricks and outdoorsy flair.
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