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Fly Fishing Show Back at the MAC

By Chris Hunt

Published online: Mar 11, 2024 Events
Viewed 975 time(s)

Photo by Josh Peterson

The event, a spring staple in Idaho Falls, is in its second year at the MAC, and there are a couple of notable changes for those interested in attending. First, the Expo will use the facility’s main entrance this year. Second, it will feature a larger number of exhibitors, and some of those new vendors will set up in the concourse as attendees enter the show. 

The event has been hosted every year for nearly three decades by the Snake River Cutthroats, the local fly-fishing club that’s also an active chapter of Trout Unlimited and Fly Fishers International. the Expo features dozens of exhibitors, live demonstrations by more than 100 fly-tyers, free destination and fly-fishing technique seminars and several workshops for both new and experienced fly fishers. 

The workshops, like the women’s fly casting clinic or the beginning fly casting class, do cost money. A half-day workshop is $45 and a full-day workshop is $75.

Additionally, the Expo offers free kids’ raffles over the course of the show every year, and grownups can purchase raffle tickets and participate in live raffles and games throughout the show. Raffle items include everything from fly-fishing gear and equipment to art, books and more. The Expo features a “two-bit” raffle for two pontoon boats (one each day of the Expo) and a bingo board raffle for high-end fly rods over the course of the show. Raffle tickets can be purchased as visitors enter the Expo.

The Mountain America Center’s ample floor space offers an indoor fly-casting pond where expert anglers can give casting demonstrations and visitors can try out new fly rods. 

“Overall, it’s a much roomier setup than what we’ve had in the past,” said Dave Pace, one of the event’s chairmen. “We learned a lot last year about how people move through the facility, and the changes we’ve made will make it even better.”

Previously, the event was held in a local hotel ballroom, where exhibition space was limited and indoor casting wasn’t really an option. 

The doors open Friday, March 22, at 8:30 a.m. The show runs until 7 p.m., at which time the Snake River Cutthroats will give a screening of the annual Fly Fishing Film Tour, also at the MAC. This will be the 12th year the club has hosted the annual collection of the best fly-fishing films from around the world. 

On Saturday, March 23, doors to the Expo will open at 8:30 a.m. and the Expo concludes at 5 p.m. Following the event, the club will host its annual fundraising banquet, also at the MAC. 

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Scott Long, another Expo chairman. “We use the proceeds from the Expo and from our banquet to help fund conservation and education efforts in our corner of Idaho.”

Over the last 28 years, the club has raised nearly $500,000 for conservation and education in eastern Idaho. In recent years, the club has helped support work on the South Fork of the Snake River in collaboration with the South Fork Initiative, a branch of the non-profit Henry’s Fork Foundation. The money is invested in habitat restoration work on the river and its many tributaries from the base of Palisades Dam all the way downstream to its confluence with Henry’s Fork near Menan. 

Starting this year, the club will begin offering an annual $1,000 scholarship to junior- or senior-level students at the University of Idaho. For now, the scholarship is being offered in the memory of Arn Bergland, a former club president who tragically passed away last summer. According to Pace and Long, the scholarship will be offered in perpetuity in honor of local conservation heroes — Bergland was certainly one of those. The club chose to offer the scholarship to U of I because it’s Bergland’s alma mater. 

One important note about the banquet, Pace pointed out: it will be smaller than many remember. 

“While we have much more room for the actual Expo, the banquet space is smaller than what we were used to before last year,” he said. “At the new venue, there’s room for about 300 attendees, as opposed to a maximum of 500 in years past.”

So, Pace said, when banquet ticket packages go on sale in mid- to late February, it’s important that those who wish to attend buy tickets as soon as possible. 

“It will definitely sell out,” Long said. “It’s a very popular event.”

Tickets will be available online at www.snakerivercutthroats.org. Check the site regularly starting in mid-February for availability. 

The banquet features both live and silent auctions as well as a raffle that features everything from fly-fishing gear to outdoor equipment. It’s a hugely popular event with conservation-minded anglers in eastern Idaho — raffle-ticket packages can be purchased with a banquet ticket, and each attendee will be assigned an auction number that can be used for the raffle, the silent auction and the live auction. 

The Expo and the subsequent banquet have taken place every year for more than 30 years, save for a three-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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