The Number-One Outdoor Recreational Activity in the U.S.

By Peter Metcalfe

When I was making a list of likely vendors for a Juneau sports and recreation show, I came up with about 60 different categories ranging from camping supplies to fitness clubs to fishing charters. Gardening was not on the list.

About that time, David Lendrum showed up with his crew to plant a tree in the pit we had prepared for it in our postage stamp of a front yard. This was last summer, shortly after I heard that the Glacier Valley Rotary Club had chosen to discontinue the Juneau Boat Show, which prompted my wife Sandy and I to go forward with a plan to produce a sports and recreation show at Centennial Hall.

We had long delayed acting on our plan because the Rotary Club’s boat show had a lock on the ideal weekend for a Juneau sports and recreation event: near the end of March when most of us are transitioning to new recreational activities, and a weekend coinciding with the conclusion of the annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.

I got to know David and his wife Margaret shortly after they launched Landscape Alaska some years ago. To introduce their new business, they participated in the Public Market, an annual event I started in 1983.

Last summer, as I stood by and watched David and his crew plant our new apple tree, I asked him what he thought of our idea to produce a sports and recreation show. “Well,” he replied, “gardening is the number one outdoor recreational activity in the United States.”

For me it was a light bulb moment. I realized then that we needed to have a gardening component to the show. When I shared David’s observation with Sandy, she took an immediate interest. Having the green thumb in the family, Sandy will spend the whole day outdoors gardening while I’m out on the boat trolling for king salmon — I just wish I could be as good a fisherman as she is a gardener.

As of this writing, the vendors who have signed up to participate in the first annual Southeast Alaska Sports and Recreation Show include retail vendors offering a wide selection of items such as hunting and fishing equipment, all terrain vehicles, hiking and jogging gear, bicycles, and boats, as well as a number of government agencies, community visitor bureaus, and volunteer organizations. Seminars will be hosted featuring wilderness safety, hunting and fishing skills, bicycle maintenance, wildlife photography, and the art of weather prediction. And, if all goes as planned, local gardening supply retailers will team up with gardening experts to present products and conduct seminars throughout the three-day event.

The Sports and Recreation Show will be held at Juneau’s Centennial Hall on March 23, 24, and 25. Admission, good for all three days, will be $5 per person.

Photographs by Peter Metcalfe