Thousands turn out for hunting and fishing show and of course – the Swamp People

mlucas@thestate.comMarch 23, 2013 

  • If You Go

    The Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic continues today at the State Fairgrounds. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (62 and older) and free for ages 10 and younger. Parking is free.

— When it’s too cold and wet to fish and hunt, that means it’s a perfect day for the Sportmen’s Classic. And thousands turned out Saturday at the State Fairgrounds for the event, which continues Sunday.

There were fishing demonstrations, hunting seminars, competitions and more, as crowds wound in and out of fairground buildings in search of the latest in fishing, hunting and the great outdoors.

Hundreds alone lined up for a chance to meet RJ and Jay Paul Molinere from the History Channel’s Swamp People. Not familiar with Swamp People?

“It’s one of the best shows that I’ve ever watched,” said Dylan Lawson about the reality TV series.

The Sandy Run eight-year-old and his mother, Joani Lawson, waited in line for 2½ hours for a chance to meet the show’s father and son duo. In fact, lines stretched outside the Nutt Cattle Arena and through the fairgrounds, while inside people waited in lines five and six lanes deep.

The turnout caught show organizers somewhat off guard.

“I can’t believe it,” said the Classic’s director, Denise Frost. “We never expected that.”

While Frost said she wouldn’t have final numbers of what the turnout for the entire three-day show – it started Friday – until first of the week, she said, overall attendance was strong.

Fishing expert and guide Joey Mines could see why.

“This is the nicest outdoor show – period,” said Mines, who also hosts one of the longest running outdoor TV shows, “Outdoors with Joey Mines.”

The LaGrange, Ga., resident, who was talking to people after his fishing demonstration Saturday, said he has attended more than 15 of the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classics and it’s always one of his favorites – mainly because of the activities for children.

“That’s what I like about it,” he said. “No other show does that. It’s important that we get kids involved with the outdoors.”

Ed Smith, of West Columbia, might have agreed with Mines. He was browsing through the Cantey building with his 6-year-old granddaughter Kaileigh Belle Smith.

Smith had just bought Kaileigh Belle her first fishing rod and was looking next for aa child-size life jacket. The two were planning to go fishing together either locally or at Santee State Park.

What do they like to catch?

“We catch our quality time,” he said.

Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.

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