Hunting Expo Moves from Traverse City to Gaylord, Organizer Says Parking Problems Led the Change

An issue with parking has a popular hunting expo moving out after more than 20 years in Grand Traverse County.

The Traverse City Hunting and Fishing Expo will now call Gaylord home and is re-branding itself as the Gaylord Ultimate Hunting Expo.

With more walking trails and the new Norte building cars would not be allowed to park on the grass outside the civic center, where the expo was held for the past two decades.

That’s why they’re moving.

“We got our start in Traverse City, that’s what we called home for so many years, we’ve been embraced in that community and circumstances led us here.”

Expo organizer Jim Liska says in years past the county allowed his vendors to park on the grass behind the civic center, but that’s not the case anymore.

“And that’s worked for 23 years but that’s unfortunately come to an end,” Liska, said.

He says without that space, more than 40 percent of the parking spots would be filled by vendors, which would mean less space for expo attendees.

“It was hard for them to service our needs,” Liska, added.

“We are disappointed, it was certainly a good show in our area,” John Roth, said.

Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Board President John Roth, says they haven’t been officially notified about the expo’s plans to move but are looking at ways to fix the parking issue moving forward.

“It’s a balancing act for us, we have a park and we have a venue, it’s kind of a compromise between the two and we are trying to work that out so  keep the areas of the park, for the park and other areas for the venue for the civic center,” Roth, explained.

But what’s disappointing for Grand Traverse County is exciting for Otsego County.

Next march, The Ellison Place in Gaylord will host the expo.

“Gaylord has just become such a beautiful town with all the new things that have come so it’s a great place to come to the expo,” Big Boys TV Host Jada Johnson, said.

And the owner says its great news for locals.

“I mean they are huge numbers for the restaurants and different businesses in town when we have these shows here because it brings so many people to the community,” Ellison Place Owner Kevin Johnson, said.

A community Liska hopes to stay in for the foreseeable future.

“I’ve been embraced by the community. I look at this as a two to three year proposition if not farther beyond,” Liska, said.

Traverse City hotels see lots of traffic from the Hunting and Fishing Expo.

They’re going to miss that business.

Spring is not the busiest time for visitors and tourists.

The expo is scheduled in March, which is the least busy month, according to some hotels.

They say that the event brings in visitors, but a lot of their guest are vendors who stay a few days before and after the show, and eat at their restaurants, and fill up rooms.

“The people that display and have booths there come in a few days early come in and set up, we get them in our restaurant here. We’re going to have a lot of vacant rooms at that time; it was a big chunk of business coming in for the event,” Cambria Suites director of operations, Ron Robinson said.

The 2019 Hunting and Fishing Expo is scheduled for March 15 through the 17th next year.