Salt Lake City, Utah: The 2018 Western Hunting & Conservation Expo (Hunting Expo) closed on Sunday February 11, but all who attended will agree that the show continues to get bigger and better. Over 50,000 attendees passed through the halls of Hunt Expo and the auctions, tag sales and other fundraisers combined to raise over $7 million for conservation efforts conducted by host organizations Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and the Mule Deer Foundation. In addition, the show was selected by US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke as the venue to sign a new Secretarial Order prioritizing big game migratory corridors and winter range. The 2018 Hunting Expo was sponsored by Ammo & More and ACI and was held in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“This show has grown to become one of the most recognizable and important events in the hunting industry,” said Troy Justensen, SFW President and CEO. “The biggest brand names and celebrities in the business rub shoulders with everyday sportsmen and women from nearly every state. Everything about our show is geared for conservation and working to improve conditions for wildlife and hunters.”
The exhibit hall was busy throughout the show with more than 50,000 attendees touring 500,000 square feet of exhibit space. Manufacturers and vendors at the event had brisk sales and most have already reserved their booth space for next year’s show. In addition, the Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience kept the kids busy at the indoor pellet gun range and with other hands-on activities. The evening events once again paired important conservation messages through the keynote speakers, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Bass Pro Shops Founder Johnny Morris, with the fast-paced auctions raising millions of dollars for conservation efforts. Evening entertainment at the ticketed banquets was headlined by country musicians Ned Ledoux, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, and Sara Evans.
“Each year I don’t know how Hunt Expo could get any better and every year we exceed even our own high expectations. This year was no different setting new records for attendance and money raised to fulfill our conservation mission,” said Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO, Miles Moretti. “There were a lot of great activities during this year’s Hunt Expo, but the true testament to the importance of the show to the region’s sportsmen and women was having Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke there to launch his department’s new initiative for big game corridors and winter range.”
New in 2018 was the Great Salt Lake Waterfowl Calling Championships held throughout Saturday during the show. Duck and goose calls filled the halls of the Salt Palace Convention Center as 76 competitors from Utah, California and nearly every other western state and from as far away as Nebraska, Minnesota and Kansas competed for more than $10 thousand in cash and prizes.
“It’s always bittersweet when Hunt Expo closes; our staff and partners have worked so hard to make the show a success and we know everyone who came through the doors enjoyed themselves,” Justensen commented. “Our team is already working to put together next year’s show, so if you haven’t come to Hunt Expo yet, you need to make it a top priority for 2019!”
Next year’s Western Hunting & Conservation Expo will be held February 14-17, 2019 in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Information about this year’s Hunt Expo and details about next year’s show will be posted on the WHCE website at www.huntexpo.com.