Bob Mitchell: Sports shows

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's that time of year when Sports, Boat and Travel Show arrangements are being completed by those resorts and related businesses around the country.

The goal is to whet the appetites of people who participate in leisure activities a little earlier and perhaps sign them up for early reservations and purchases.

Such was an organization in the upper area of Table Rock Lake known as the Roaring River State Park and Table Rock Lake Playground Association.

During the organizational phases, members of the group included Cassville, Shell Knob, Eagle Rock and Missouri State Park, with only slight effort from Monett and Aurora. There was no way to shorten the title or make it "more catchy" since the large group involved insisted on that complete title. It was actually an offshoot, patterned partly by the then-defunct Ozark Playgrounds Association.

Large chore

What fell upon the organizers was a decision of what shows to attend, what kind of displays to present and what literature to present to the booth visitors at the show.

That first year, the group decided to attend three shows, Kansas City, St. Louis and Tulsa. At first, the group floundered around until a real leader emerged out of the pack. That was Cecil Davis, lake developer of Rod 'N' Reel Resort.

A real job of leadership was about the only thing that made the thing work with the wide number of interests providing the largest hurdles.

Ready to go

Finally, everything was in order and we rounded-up three station wagons to transport the gear to Kansas City. Cecil, me, and Bill Brame -- who established Ju-Mar-De Resort headed north -- not having the slightest idea of what we would find. Our only fact was that the show was being held in the Municipal Auditorium, which was easily found in downtown Kansas City.

Upon arrival in the middle of town, we drove around the auditorium a couple of times, noticing ramps going up the back of the building. The third time around, we took a chance and drove up the ramp and through large doors to the display floor.

Scattered around on this landing, we noticed piano roller benches. We figured they were to move heavy loads. So it was upon several of these that we loaded our cargo and wheeled them out on the main display floor. In the meantime, we discovered our spot, took our cargo to the site and began unloading and assembling at the same time.

Ready for power

After getting everything assembled, we were standing back admiring our handiwork when we noticed the large plastic map starting to lean. Moving as quickly as a cat, Cecil was holding the breakable, top-heavy map after a support on the base gave way, and we saved the display from disaster. After bracing the base, it was time to turn on the electricity to the display. It was then we discovered there no power available from the plug-in, and we had more trouble in front of us.

Inquiring at the office about electricity, we learned we weren't even supposed to be on the display floor. The chores, including moving from the landing, to installing, to electric power, was supposed to be accomplished by union labor available through the office. Only some smooth talking, and possibly crossing the palm with silver, and they overlooked the mistakes committed by the boys out of the backcountry.

The display that almost crashed and burned was an immediate hit and was among the most popular on the floor. In later years, virtually every booth in the shows included a display map of their areas, each having much shorter names than ours.

Using the same format, the display was used for years, adding only a freezer with some frozen Black Bass and Crappie lunkers to lure visitors to the booth to hear this area's sales speech.

Today's effort

There is still a Sports Show effort from this end of Table Rock Lake, centered in the Central Crossing area of Shell Knob and Viola. They have an attractive booth, photos, etc., with a strong appeal for show visitors to make their vacation plans in the central part, now called "The quiet end of the lake" for people wanting a vacation location away from the hustle and bustle locations further down stream.

Previous years of this Central Crossing effort have included Roaring River State Park in the attraction list and posting on a map promoting attractions.

24 days

Looking ahead, there are 24 more days until the opening of Roaring River State Park's Rainbow Trout season. Most generally, not always, this is considered the front door to spring in these parts, but with February's reputation for weather changes, that won't be a certainty until the 28th rolls around.

In the meantime, enjoy what Mother Nature throws at us. After all, you're in God's Country of the Barry County Ozarks.

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.