By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE-It’s an event that caters to and attracts crowds of folks who love the outdoors—and yet, for the first two years it was held almost entirely indoors due to wintry weather. So the 2015 Black Canyon Hunt & Outdoor Expo—one of the Montrose’s major annual draws for visitors—will take place May 1-2 at Friendship Hall at the Montrose County Fairgrounds.

Though the Expo began as an annual event in February, “The first two years we had big storms, so we wanted to shift it to make things easier for people to get here from places like Gunnison,” organizer John Pope said. “We’ll be able to do more things outside; we will have food and music vendors on the lawn, music throughout the day, and High Country Sporting Dogs will be doing demos outside with live birds.”

Though it is only in its third year, the Black Canyon Hunt & Outdoor Expo has drawn 4,000 to 5,000 previously.

“We’re hoping to hit those numbers again,” said Pope, who partners with local teacher Jason Killen to put on the Expo. The idea first came to him several years ago.

“I went to an outdoor expo in Salt Lake City,” Pope said, “and thought, why not Montrose? So we started planning a small event.”

However, the small event quickly became a big event after Pope brought it to the attention of Title Sponsor Cabela’s.

“They offered to sponsor, so we went from 20 participating businesses to 70 right away,” he said. “The second year, we had 80—it just grew legs and took off.”

This year, seminars will be moved to the main show floor, he said. Also new for 2015 will be the “week before” activities, with Expo-sponsored businesses eligible for advertising opportunities that promote “week-before” opportunities and events that help generate enthusiasm for the Black Canyon Hunt & Outdoor Expo itself.

“We do this to get the public in front of our vendors and build excitement,” Pope said. “And if you sign up as a vendor, we will give you ad space on our web site.”

Only a few of the top ad spots remain, he said, because the Black Canyon Hunt & Outdoor Expo has major appeal to businesses from out of the area as well—this year’s vendors will come from as far away as the Texas Panhandle.

“We’ll have a real mix,” he said, “everything from outfitters to taxidermists, artists and businesses of all kinds—if it’s outdoor related, we’ve got it. Cabela’s will be there; the Division of Parks and Wildlife will be doing youth archery shoots, and Gunnison Gorge Anglers will have fly casting and tying.

The 2015 Black Canyon Hunt & Outdoor Expo will highlight youth fly fishing activities, noted Marshall Pendergrass of Gunnison Gorge Anglers/Trout Unlimited.

“We’ll help school kids learn to tie knots, cast flies; general fly fishing activities,” Pendergrass said. “By moving to May, we’ll have better weather—so we want to let local kids that we’ll be there.”

In addition to event set-up, there will be a Social Dinner at the Holiday Inn from 7 to 10 p.m. the night before the Expo, April 30.

“Our guest speaker will be Wildlife Caller Wayne Carlton,” Pope said. “He’s pretty entertaining, and it should be a great opportunity for businesses to network with each other.”  The Expo itself runs from 1 to 6 p.m. on May 1, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 2. Contact organizers at 970.417.5868, or via email at blackcanyonexpo@outlook.com.