ORLANDO, Fla. — It's like a combination of Christmas Day and a family reunion. That's what the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, better known as ICAST, has grown to become.
And "grow" is the key word; it keeps getting bigger and better. For a trade show that isn't open to the general public, this year's version of ICAST will attract quite a crowd Tuesday through Friday at the Orange County Convention Center.
"We expect more than 10,000 attendees, which is a first," said Mary Jane Williamson, the American Sportfishing Association's spokesperson. "The show has been sold out for over a month, and there's a waiting list if anyone backs out."
New products are what give this trade show a Christmas Day feel. Everything that's new in the fishing world will be unveiled here, beginning tonight with the New Product Showcase. In just one more example of how this show is growing, there will be an all-time high of new products in 24 categories.
"It's becoming more diversified, with apparel and boating products," Williamson said. "So we have amended the New Product Showcase to accommodate that diversity."
One new product will be voted on this evening to determine the overall Best in Show, and there will be Best in Show awards for each of the 24 categories. More fishing products are unveiled during the ICAST New Product Showcase than anywhere else in the world.
The showcase is the premier venue where established manufacturers and entrepreneurs alike debut their latest innovations in fishing gear and accessories. Hundreds of new products will compete for Best of Show honors. Industry buyers and media serve as judges to rate the products and cast their votes.
Another example of the growth of this show is that, for the second year in a row, ICAST and the International Fly Tackle Dealer show (IFTD), the fly tackle-specific show produced by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), are co-locating in the Orange County Convention Center on the same days and the same show hours.
“The show has grown exponentially over the past two years and now encompasses a half million square feet in the convention center,” ASA Trade Show Director Ken Andres said. “The ‘world’s largest recreational fishing trade show’ is a sure bet for domestic and international exhibitors, buyers and media. In fact, if you do business in the recreational fishing industry; there is no other venue that compares to ICAST.
“Throughout its 57-year history, ICAST has embodied all aspects of recreational fishing. The bottom line is that the trade show really is about what’s new and exciting in gear, tackle, marine and apparel for the men, women and children who love to get out on the water and go fishing. Over the past several years, the show has expanded to include more apparel and marine manufacturers which appeals to a broader audience of buyers and media and showcases the total recreational fishing experience.”
ICAST is a homecoming, as well. From big names in the fishing world like Bill Dance, Roland Martin, Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli, Luke Clausen, Shaw Grigsby and Mark Sosin to just about anybody trying to make it to that stage will be here, representing their various sponsors. And all the media members those anglers have worked with over the years will be here as well. It's a time to reconnect with old friends and well as tout new products.
For the fishing world, ICAST is the ultimate combination of Christmas and a fishing family reunion, rolled into a mid-summer trade show.
Click here for videos, stories and photos from ICAST 2014.