Boat, travel show features an old water-skiing friend

02/22/2014 8:08 PM

08/06/2014 9:59 AM

The 60th annual Kansas Sports, Boat and Travel Show will feature a lot of its traditional wares – like campers, RVs and boats of all sizes – along with educational outdoors seminars and booths from outfitters and outdoors equipment manufacturers.

Laurie Hallowell, show director, said this year’s event will also have plenty of new elements, including a reduced pricing structure, prizes and a return performance from one of the show’s most popular attractions: Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel.

OK, maybe it’s not the same squirrel that was here about 20 years ago. Lou Ann Best, Twiggy’s manager and trainer, said she’s currently using her seventh and eighth Eastern gray squirrels to ski behind a special, remote-controlled Twiggy Boat at about 15 shows she attends every year.

Best said assorted Twiggys have appeared in such movies as “Anchorman,” “Dodgeball” and others, as well as many television shows. Best said Twiggy will make two to four appearances per day.

Hallowell said that while the number of exhibitors is down a bit this year, visitors shouldn’t notice the difference as they walk the aisles at the show.

“(Vendors) ended up taking more space so they could bring in more new products,” Hallowell said. “They’ve filled in the space well. We’re pretty full.”

The show will again feature a giant fish tank where fishing experts will give seminars on how to catch bass, crappie, walleye and other Kansas species of sport fish. Clay Dixon, a Wichita-area angler dedicated to educating average anglers on how to catch fish from public waters in Kansas, will be one of the presenters.

This year’s show will also let visitors register for a special prize package estimated to be worth up to about $2,000.

The public can also cast ballots for finalists in the youth and adult divisions of The Wichita Eagle’s Great Outdoors Photo Contest and register to win outdoors prints taken by Eagle photographers. Voting – also available at Kansas.com – will be allowed until about noon Saturday.

Hallowell said visitors should see some welcome changes when they check in at the ticket window. General admission prices are $7 this year, down from $9 at past shows. The Sports Show will also have a “Date Night Special” in which couples can get two tickets for the price of one after 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. She also said members of the Good Sam RV Club, or those wishing to join, will get substantial discounts, too.

“We want to get the attendance really going this year,” Hallowell said. “We decided to get our price points down and try somethings that’s new and creative.”

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