2nd annual celebration of conservation, education and fly fishing a major hit in Denver.
Normally, we see conservation expos and fly fishing trade shows stuffed inside convention centers or large resort hotels. Exhibitors in confined boxes, bumping elbows with each other while attendees work through isles weaving their way from exhibitor to exhibitor. This isn’t a bad design by any means, as their targeted audience will go where the event is, but how do you get people to a conservation and fly fishing event if they know nothing about the topics? One idea is to offer it for free and have it at a major attraction in a large city with plenty of free parking and nearby public transit.
On Saturday, July 8th, 2023, Colorado Trout Unlimited held its annual Troutfest Colorado at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. Approximately 3,000 people entered the ballpark throughout the day to roam the mezzanine level of the stadium and visit over 50 exhibitors, watch films on the giant scoreboard, receive casting instruction, watch professional fly tyers, and interact with numerous youth activities. The venue attracted not only TU members and anglers, but also many families and people who simply saw a free event at Coors Field and wanted to learn more about Colorado Trout Unlimited.
By utilizing the Coors Field scoreboard and having a large 30-foot exhibit, the TU message was loud and clear. Conservation films and presentations throughout the day shared what TU does in Colorado and why it’s important to conserve and protect our water. The scoreboard showed TU films such as “Decades: 50 Years of Colorado Trout Unlimited”, “Romeo November”, and “Querencia: A Love of Place”. Half of the exhibitors were non-profits, sharing what they do with all attendees that passed. The other half of exhibitors included manufacturers and retailers. Troutfest Colorado even included a barber cutting hair and a local tattoo artist.
Fourteen fly tying professionals set up shop at another exhibit to show the public their craft. With an open and inviting layout, attendees mingled with tyers as they tied flies throughout the day.
A large focus of Troutfest Colorado was on youth and interactive exhibits. CTU’s ‘Kids Corral’ was a large space dedicated to TU programs such as a Macroinvertebrates Station, Build a Bug Station, Learn How to Handle Fish Station, and more. Kids and adults even got to handle live macroinvertebrates, see them under a microscope and tie a fly to “Match the Hatch”. In addition, there were interactive water tables where attendees could build streams and see how they interacted with the land around them.
The event also had three casting areas; one for instruction and presentations, one for youth and the other to demo fly rod company products.
Other special events and attractions at Troutfest Colorado included a special message from Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a donation presentation from Ross Reels to Colorado Trout Unlimited based on its Native Series Reel Program, and a showing of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival on the Coors Field scoreboard that evening.
“In its second year, we really wanted to make Troutfest Colorado an engagement event.”, said David Nickum, Colorado Trout Unlimited Executive Director. “We focused on outside-the-box advertising, including radio and targeted digital ads. We feel successful that many attendees didn’t know what Trout Unlimited was and that our message was clear. We hope these people reach out to their local chapters and get involved in protecting Colorado’s rivers.”