By Denny Quaiff for Whitetail Times
The nationwide lock-down last year put most all events on hold, including the Green Top Outdoor Expo. However, plans are in place to pick up where it left off in 2019, and this year’s Expo on October 2 through 3 is set to be the most eventful outdoor show on the eastern seaboard.
The Green Top Outlook
With so many changes that have taken place over the past year, I decided to reach out to my friend Blaine Altaffer, president of Green Top Sporting Goods, who is always great to visit with. I wanted to learn about this big undertaking that I could plainly see takes a lot of planning and manpower. I was curious to know how a venture of this magnitude developed and what has been the key to its ongoing success?
Blaine said, “The Green Top Expo is a true year long process of planning and constant evaluation of improving the customer experience each year. We actually start meeting on the next year’s Expo a few weeks after the Expo ends. We actually go through a ‘Stop, Start, Keep’ exercise while the event is fresh on our minds.”
He continued, “As to your question of why would we ever take on something this massive it’s very simple. We consider ‘Experience Based Retailing’ an essential part of our formula of success at Green Top. We used to travel and participate in other outdoor shows, which required us to take very limited merchandise offerings as well as staffing. We consistently would say while attending these shows that the proposition of limited items, no firearms, customers having to pay to come in and lastly the expansion of the show promoters to fill booth space by including vendors that have nothing to do with outdoors led us to our own Green Top Expo that would be at our store, with over 70,000 items stocked, with our vendors and with our Green Top Pros.”
Blaine went on to say, “We then wrapped it with what we think is essential and that is a no-charge event. Why should anyone have to pay to attend an Expo? When we debuted the Expo several years ago, we stayed very true to the mission: create an outdoor expo experienced based event that focuses on the best brands, assortments, technology, value wrapped with expertise. I have always said, ‘it is not a cotton candy, free hot dog, face painting event;’ it is focused on the passionate user.”
Blaine expressed that being restricted from holding the Expo last year was a big disappointment. Now that restrictions are lifted and all the wheels in motion for this year, I asked him how he saw the October event shaping up for 2021.
I could tell how pleased he was to say, “We believe that consumers are so ready to get out and meet face to face, to touch and feel products. It’s been a long year of staying at home and social distancing. With our expanded offerings this year, we think we will beat our record crowd of 23,000 from 2019. With over 200 of the biggest hunting, shooting, fishing, cooking, and clothing vendors coming in addition to our newly added kids’ scavenger hunt, a Thursday live gun auction, a Friday truckload tree stand sale, and our newly added Whitetail Trophy Class deer contest, we are expecting fanfare like never before.”
Blaine, along with the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA) and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), is sponsoring the Whitetail Trophy Clash deer contest. I asked him how he sees this as an overall added attraction for this big weekend event?
Blaine went on to explain, “We are so pleased to announce our partnership with the VDHA on the Whitetail Trophy Clash. By incorporating Virginia’s best whitetail contest with the state’s largest outdoor Expo, it means thousands of outdoorsman/women will get a chance to see the spectacle of this event. Who doesn’t like to see what the largest whitetails taken in Virginia look like? It also gives the contestants a much larger stage to showcase their trophy whitetails. We know this will serve as a huge draw to our event.”
I asked Blaine if there is one last thing that he would like to share with our readers that makes the Green Top Outdoor Expo special for all those who attend? I completely agree with Blaine’s final comments when he said, “After 74 years of being Virginia’s destination outdoor store, we are so honored to continue this tradition and we feel like our partnership with VDHA is a reminder that we plan on continuing this role for years to come.”
The Role of DWR
Another major player in this year’s event that hunters and fishermen depend on throughout the year is the DWR. I spoke with Ryan Brown, DWR executive director, to get his input.
I told Ryan that I know that Green Top Sporting Goods is a long-time friend of DWR, and their Outdoor Expo has been a great event for the hunters and fishermen throughout the state. I asked him how this big event has benefited DWR and what support will the agency provide?
Ryan said, “The Outdoor Expo certainly has become a premier event for hunters, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. In my mind, it serves as a kick-off to the fall hunting seasons and provides our constituents with access to a lot of the latest in hunting and fishing equipment, and an opportunity to talk with experts and among each other as they prepare for experiences in the field in the year to come.”
He went on to say, “We plan to be present again this year, with opportunities for folks to interact with our staff and learn about our programs. We will also continue our partnership with VDHA in the Virginia Whitetail Trophy Clash and look forward to seeing great examples of quality Virginia bucks that are brought in.”
I told Ryan that this past year has been tough on all of us, and that I’d seen DWR make numerous adjustments to cope with the issues. I asked him how he sees the Green Top Expo being a breath of fresh air to kick-off the upcoming hunting seasons that we all live for?
Ryan’s comments were informative when he said, “I think I can speak for all of us in saying that it is very nice to see the world begin to transition back to opportunities for us to get together, share our experiences, and simply enjoy many of the things that we had prior to the pandemic. While the outdoors remained open throughout the last year, and we had some of the best public participation in outdoor activities in recent memory, to me something still was missing in that we didn’t have the social components that many of us probably used to take for granted.” The Director concluded by saying, “It truly feels like this year is setting up to be the more normal experience that we are used to, and events like the Expo being able to be held is definitely an indicator of that.”
Virginia Whitetail Trophy Clash
The Trophy Clash will be sponsored by DWR and VDHA. The contest will be a big stage for deer hunters throughout the state to display their mounts in this prestigious contest. Judges from the VDHA and DWR will be awarding trophies and ribbons to the winners. Citations will also be given by the VDHA.
Classes are as follows:
- 6 points and below
- 7 & 8 points
- 9, 10, 11 points and 12 points & above
*typical and non-topical in each class
Divisions are as follows:
- Youth 15 & under
Hunters must have a certified Virginia Game Check Card or their confirmation number on their hunting license from deer checked on-line or by the DWR Telephone Checking System to enter a deer in the contest. The contest will take entries harvested during the 2019-2020 or 2020-2021 seasons. The contest will be judged under the Boone and Crockett scoring system.
VDHA volunteers will start taking entries on Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and continue again on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the deadline of 12 p.m. There will be no exceptions after the deadline on Saturday. All entries will be returned on Sunday at 4 p.m.,, with an award presentation beginning at 4 p.m. There is a $35 entry fee, which covers the scoring fees and provides a one-year membership in the VDHA, which includes a year’s subscription to Whitetail Times.
Michael Waddell at the Show on Sunday
Michael Waddell is an American hunter as well as a television host. He is currently the host of the TV show “Realtree Road Trips”. Also, a producer of his own show, Michael has been hunting since his childhood, and has been associated with Team Realtree since 1994.
In 2008, Michael was chosen as the official celebrity spokesperson for the Outdoor Channel. A year later, he started hosting his new show “Bone Collector,” which showcases Michael’s love and passion for outdoors. He was also named as the official spokesperson for the National Wild Turkey Federation, which enabled him to host “Turkey Call TV,” a television show that aired on Outdoor Channel.
Michael will be at the Expo on Sunday. This will be a great attraction to the event that deer and turkey hunters do not want to miss.
Expo Perspective from an Industry Vendor
Steve Hostetter, regional sales manager for Mossberg Firearms, has been in the outdoor industry working with dealers throughout the country for over 25 years. I have personally known him throughout those years, and have a great respect for his insight that surrounds the hunting community. This was why I knew Steve with his industry background would have a lot to add that I could share with our readers.
Steve, after being in business for many years selling guns and hunting equipment to sporting dealers throughout the country, gave me his overview of the industry, which is highly regarded. I asked him to share with our readers how he would best describe the annual Green Top Outdoor Expo? “The Green Top Expo, I think, is best described as a family-oriented, outdoorsman event where there is something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re into hunting, fishing or an outdoor enthusiast that just enjoys being out in the great outdoors, there’s plenty that can be found at the Green Top Expo that will interest you. Plenty of product demos, door prizes, good food, activities for the children, celebrities, and manufacturers eagerly willing to discuss their products.”
Another question that came to mind for Steve was: Have you talked with other vendors/manufacturers at the Expo, and what have you heard about their experience?
“After speaking with several manufacturers who attend the Green Top Expo, I’m comfortable saying that the Green Top Expo is the largest consumer expo held by an independent dealer in the United States. There are events held by outdoor organizations such as the NRA, or trade shows, etc., that are larger, but no independent dealer that I’m currently aware of has an event that comes close to the size of this event.”
My last question for Steve was: While talking with folks throughout the weekend, how do you think the public perceives this big event? “Most first-time attendees are a bit overwhelmed to say the least, with almost 200 vendors at the last expo that drew 23,000 people. I’ve seen people walking around like they were in a daze, just staring at all the equipment and gear at this event. Then there are the veterans of the event who are zeroed in on what they are looking for and plan ahead to find deals, the manufacturers they want to speak with, and outdoor celebrities they want to meet.”
Steve concluded by saying, “One thing Green Top and all who participate in this event, including the attendees, can be proud of is that even with this amount of people and sheer magnitude of the event there hasn’t been one security issue that I am aware of, and that speaks volumes about our outdoor community as a whole.”
Green Top Sporting Goods has been a true friend to the hunting and fishing community for more than seven decades. The ongoing support that they continue to promote for our organization gives us a level of satisfaction that we are most grateful for. Their Outdoor Expo is another fine example of their ongoing success. This big event offers something for sportsmen, sportswomen, and the upcoming group of youth hunters that is so meaningful for what the future holds. The Expo has continued to grow through the leadership of Blaine Altaffer and his knowledgeable group of Green Top employees.
Be sure to have October 2-3 on your calendar so you don’t miss the opportunity to see trophy bucks from across the state, meet Michael Waddell, talk with DWR professionals, and buy the latest and greatest products from the outdoor industry. This is one tremendous event you do not want to miss!
©Virginia Deer Hunters Association. For attribution information and reprint rights, contact Denny Quaiff, Executive Director, VDHA.