Sports, boat, travel show under one roof this year

Rose, Kim and Kitty love few things more than entertaining a crowd.

Gala Rogachena said the three sea lions also are pros at spreading the word about the importance of conservation.

"There's a lot of entertainment when they do all of their tricks but we also want to bring an environmental message, too," said Rogachena, the sea lions' handler. "There will be dives and back flips and lessons on recycling."

The Sea Lion Splash is one of many attractions being offered at the Kansas Sports, Boat and Travel Show. This year's event begins today and runs through Sunday at the Kansas Pavilions, 1229 E. 85th St. North.

The show was spread between the main Coliseum and a pavilion for many years. Show manager Jess Bodelson isn't worried about the change.

"Things are looking pretty good. We have more RVs, more boats and more about everything else this year," Bodelson said. "We have 135,000 square feet and most of it is full."

In the past, RVs and boats were in one part of the complex and booths selling guided fishing trips, vacation destinations and outdoor gear in another.

"Before, I think you had people who came to see the RVs or boats and those who just came to see" the booths, Bodelson said. "I'm sure some didn't take the time to go see the other things. Now it's all pretty much right here."

Various events are planned. The main show is Rogachena and the sea lions.

Shows last about 30 minutes, three times a day.

Rogachena said it's their first time performing in Wichita so she'll spend a few minutes explaining facts about sea lions. The program's animals are South American sea lions, which are rarely seen in the U.S.

The Sport Show will also feature seminars on fishing and a huge fish tank for lure demonstrations.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will have its laser-shot simulated hunting program that allows kids to shoot lasers at simulated flying gamebirds.

The public can also vote on the finalists for The Wichita Eagle's Great Outdoors Photo Contest and register to win free wildlife photos taken by Eagle photographers.

Bodelson said he's confident attendance will be good at this year's show. He said attendance has been strong at sports shows in other cities. Sales have been strong, too.

"I think people have pent-up desires to buy some things and the economic picture is more optimistic than last year," he said. "People are just ready to get out."