Wilsonville-based organization to host Expo

By DREW GRANTHUM / Sports Writer

The American Deer Hunters’ Association, LLC, based in Wilsonville, will host its 30th Annual World Deer Expo at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center July 19-21.

The Expo brings hunting enthusiasts, outfitters and exhibitors from across the country to the BJCC to showcase the latest in hunting products. The event covers East halls 1, 2 and 3 as well as North bays 1-9 of the arena.

The event is the brainchild of promoter Bob Coker, who said the event was much smaller when it started out.

“The first two years, it was sad,” he said. “We had around 42-45 vendors, and 1,500 people (attended). We lost a lot of money, and almost didn’t do it again. The next year we tripled our attendance.”

Coker said planning for the event, which is the largest three-day consumer hunting trade show in the world, is a never-ending process.

“We are already six months into putting together the 2014 show,” he said. “I have the BJCC rented 20 years out. This isn’t something you work on 12 months out.”

In addition to the hundreds of vendors, those in attendance will be able to win door prizes, enter contests such as the Alabama Outdoor News Shoot Out and the Big Buck Recognition Awards and meet celebrities. Those in attendance include Glenn Guist of “Swamp People” fame, Ronnie and Amy from Lizard Lick Towing, Lee and Tiffany from The Crush and Jeff Foxworthy. There will also be lectures from professional hunters such as Spook Spann and Eddie Salter.

Coker said he felt the celebrities and contests were a big draw for anyone, but felt devout hunters will also find anything they’re looking for.

“We’ve got a lot of big-name attractions, and I understand that,” he said. “The avid hunter will enjoy those booths. They’ll be overwhelmed by the number of booth spaces.”

The cost to attend is $13 plus tax for adults, $7 for children 11 and under, and free for children under 3. For more information, contact the ADHA at 678-4141.