OAKS – When the American Sportfishing Association announced it was backing the return of a major sports and outdoors show in the Philadelphia area last year, it was met with a degree of skepticism by some outdoors enthusiasts who had seen the decline of other recent such shows.

For outdoors enthusiasts who attended last year's inaugural show, however, acceptance – and appreciation – immediately replaced that skepticism. Recently, show promoter Jonathan Sauers announced that based on input from exhibitors and survey results from attendees that this year's show has added even more features and attractions.

This year's Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow begins its four-day run Thursday and concludes Sunday, Feb. 20 and returns to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. Thursday and Friday, the show is open from 12:30 to 9 p.m., Saturday's hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday's hours are10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and information and tickets are available on the Web at www.sportshows.com/philly [1].

"Our goal last year was to give exposition attendees an outstanding show experience, and while the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, there were areas we wanted to improve," Sauers said. "Those who attended last year's show will see those improvements in both the seminars and additional exhibitors – many of whom approached us about being part of the show after hearing about the show by word of mouth.

"We have a seminar schedule that offers everything outdoors enthusiasts and their families need to get prepared for the upcoming seasons – no matter if they enjoy, camping, boating, fishing or hunting. Our exhibitors include guides, lodges and charter boat captains from all over the country and numerous retailers who will be stocked with gear and equipment of every kind.

"In addition to retailers, we've been able to attract additional manufacturers to attend the show. People told us that is something they wanted, as it gives them the opportunity to talk with a company representative rather than a sales person."

This is the fourth East Coast-based fishing, hunting and outdoors consumer show for ASA and its consumer-show management com-pany, Eastern Fishing & Outdoor Exposition. For more than 30 years, the company has presented outdoors shows and, as a result, is able to attract major speakers and quality exhibitors.

Among the wide-range of speakers presenting seminars at the Philadelphia show are fly fishing legends Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser, professional tournament anglers Zell Rowland, Tim Horton and Mike Delivsico. A major returning feature is the ASA Bass Academy, which provides anglers to take their skills to the next level.

In addition to the seminars, there will be daily programs by pro bass anglers at the Hawg Trough. This popular teaching tool allows anglers to see how to work and present various lures and how bass react to them.

New this year is the Keystone chapter of Dock Dogs International, which will conduct a winter competition, which is an open event for all dogs. In addition, Brody, the 1,400-pound Kodiak brown bear returns with handler Jeff Watson, who will give presentations about life with a massive bear and offer tips for traveling in bear country.

Making its first public appearance in Pennsylvania is "Forever Locked," a museum-quality taxidermy display of two New Hampshire moose who locked antlers during the rut and literally fought to death. In addition, another exclusive attraction are screenings of the International Fly Fishing Film Festival.

Hunting features include an appearance by the Deer City USA team of Tim Andrus, Steve Gruber and Mark Millis. Also, bowhunting authority and outdoors author Tom Tatum will provide a seminar on the do's and don'ts of bowhunting, and outdoors author and videographer Freddie McKnight will present talks about his hunting and fishing adventures throughout North America.

Keeping with the show's theme of Keep America Fishing, ASA's new campaign to engage anglers in advocating for their right to fish, will be presentations by Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission executive director John Arway on the agency's programs. In particular, he will speak about the agency's New Angler's Legacy program and Family Fishing events.

Sunday has been designated as Family Day at the show, with attendees being able to register for prizes that include a trip for two to Zancudo Lodge in Costa Rica. Also on Sunday, the first 200 children 11 and younger accompanied by an adult will receive a complimentary Plano tackle box.