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Deer Classic moving back to Peoria

February 23, 2010 at 09:37 AM

One of the country’s largest gatherings of trophy whitetail deer is coming back to Peoria in 2011.

The Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic returns to the Peoria Civic Center next March after spending 10 years at Bloomington’s Interstate Center.

Show organizer Glenn Helgeland said Peoria was his only viable option after Birkey’s Farm Stores of Rantoul purchased the Interstate Center’s main expo building and adjacent parking lots. Birkey’s sells Case IH farm and construction equipment.

“When you lose 30 percent of your exhibit space and roughly the same percentage of parking space, the decision is made for you,” Helgeland said. “We looked at Springfield and Bloomington, but Peoria is the only place big enough for this show.

“Well, we could have gone to Chicago. But that would be a dumb move.”

The Deer Classic has grown steadily since its first year in Decatur in 1990. The event quickly outgrew available facilities in Decatur and Springfield and was held in Peoria from 1995-2000.

Helgeland said a conflict over available dates was one reason he moved the popular hunting trade show to Bloomington. This year’s 20th annual Classic is Friday through Sunday at the Interstate Center and is expected to draw 22,000 spectators, 500 trophy deer heads and a record number of 349 vendors, most of whom sell hunting-related products and services.

Vendors and spectators last year came from 19 different states.

Crystal Howard of the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the three-day show has had a direct economic impact of $80,000 to $100,000 based on visitors staying in hotel rooms.

“Most of the people staying over are actual exhibitors,” Howard said. “A lot of people attending the show come through and go back home. For the most part they are not staying overnight.”

Bringing the Classic back to Peoria has been a goal of Civic Center assistant general manager Jim Wetherington, a hunter with a display of mounted deer heads and wild turkeys in his office.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Civic Center and the community,” Wetherington said. “A lot of sportsmen have been telling me for years that they would like to see (The Classic) back here.

“And it’s giving Glenn at opportunity to grow and to take his show up a level in appearance.”

Moving to the Civic Center offers Helgeland 90,000 square feet of space for vendors — one-third more than at the Interstate Center. Helgeland plans to use that space to provide more room for showgoers.

“The addition Peoria did to the original Civic Center is tremendous,” Helgeland said. “We will be in one building on one floor. The aisles are a little wider and it’s more user-friendly. People don’t need to go through tunnels and find buildings.”

Next year’s show will be March 25-27 and Helgeland said moving one month later should not be a problem.

“That’s still earlier than turkey hunting season, earlier than spring fish runs and earlier than spring planting, so the date change will be fine,” he said. “We might lose a few people on the eastern border of the state, but what we lose we’ll pick up from the Peoria area and west and south of you.

“In fact, the later date may help the event grow. Our Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin deer and turkey expos will be on consecutive weekends, which exhibitors like because it fills up their schedule.  Many of them will follow us from one event to another. But it will wear us out. In the Classic’s early years, it was on the last weekend of March, so you could say we’re returning to the original dates.”
 

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

About time!
Springfield would be better still!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 06:48 AM

I liked it in Peoria also. All in one building and NO walking thru tunnels full of water. I’m glad to see it go forward to March also.

Tim Walmsley created this show years ago. I wonder if he ever dreamed it would become as big as it is?
Thanks Tim

Jodie

Posted by archernut_ibs on 02/24 at 08:04 AM

Another middle finger in the face of southern illinois residents.  Springfield would be better because of its central location.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 08:43 AM

Peoria is closer to central IL population wise.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 10:19 AM

I liked it the deer and turkey classic in Peoria and went every year.  I only been to Bloomington twice for the classic and it was not the greatest place. I will go next year!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 10:32 AM

Peoria or springfield - At least it isn’t in Bloomington anymore!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 10:37 AM

I’ve only been to one classic and that was last year in bloomington.  Man was it jam packed, you could hardly walk.  Good problem to have I guess to keep the event going.  Glad to hear it’s moving back to Peoria, I’ll be sure to attend it there.  I do plan to go this saturday however.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 12:22 PM

More than happy to see the show return to Peoria.  You made my days guys.  Thanks!  Somehow I have the feeling Capa Cabana will be losing a bit of money that weekend next year…just saying.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 03:35 PM

The show used to be in Springfield years ago at the state fairgrounds. The show was much smaller then and the venue would not be big enough for the current show.  If they had a bigger venue it would be worth trying.  Peoria is still the best option though because of the size. Also after 11 am I think it is on Saturdays and all day sunday there is free parking on at the meters in Peoria. Better that 10 bucks or whatever Bloomington is.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 04:16 PM

I did not Jodie!!! I was told 20 years ago it would flop!  Thanks Buddy!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 06:47 PM

YAY!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/24 at 06:55 PM

Its a good thing always thought Peoria center was a better time a lot less crowded and you could take youre time and look and talk to vendors .So what happens to the rest of the fairgrounds at Bloomington being half of it has been sold? If ya get a chance you should check out the Wisconsin show in Madison its probably 3 times as big as Illinois ,but one thing ,their deer arent even close to what our side of the crick puts out!Iowa show is good in Des Moines, differant outfit that runs it much smaller but their deer are real close to ours for sure ,one thing they always had was Legendary Whitetails collection and it is truly amazing and worth the drive ,havent been there for a while but last time we went they had Milo Hansens world record along with him signing pictures !

Posted by trolloni on 02/24 at 08:07 PM

If I’m not mistaken, this could well be the weekend of youth turkey season in the southern zone.  But then, moving it farther north may not matter much.

Posted by KC-IBS on 02/25 at 05:41 PM

i’ll never know why switched. park on the street and easier access. plus they charge for parking at bloomington, the convention center in peoria had every thing in one building.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/26 at 03:59 PM

I spent all day at the Bloomington building today, and I must say, awesome show! Buuuut the layout was confusing as usual, horribly over-crowded, and it took hours to get through the lines of people. Especially to meet Jeff Lampe. lol I will happily drive the extra distance from southern IL to be able to enjoy the show more next year. If you folks have the time, it is really worth going!

Posted by Roemer on 02/28 at 12:30 AM

i liked it much better the first year they had it back in march 1986. they had all the bucks organized into groups according to the number of points! it was much easier to compare them.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 02/28 at 12:51 PM

Mr. Helgeland:
Again, you amazed us with your lack of planning on how you run this show, especially when it comes to making the awards.  You pay no attention to detail causing several repeated mistakes, lack of trophies, lack of plaques, and dissappointed hunters.  It is good thing for you that you are the only show in town, because if any of us had a choice, I’m sorry, you would be at the bottom of the list.  Really, how can someone such as yourself continue to do this year after year and not have enough plaques for all the trophies at the awards ceremony?  How much can they cost anyway??  How can anyone who claims to have been doing this for 20+ years come to the awards ceremony with 4 best of show awards, knowing they need to hand out 6?  This analysis is not merely based on this year’s situation, but based on several year’s worth of disappointing ceremonies. 

You should also have some qualified judges on the photography contest.  I realise you’re apparently believe you are a one-man show and can do it all, but lighten your burden and let someone who knows something about photography judge the contest.  Yes, it has grown to be a big show and you need to delegate to continue to survive or someone will put you out of business with a better plan.

____________*_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_*__________

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/01 at 05:02 PM

I keep hearing about Don Higgins and his booth.  Sorry, but I don’t know who Don is.  Can someone please enlighten me?  Maybe you Don?  Thanks.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/03 at 02:55 PM

Good post Imanatureboy ,  as far as I am concerned the guy is a joke and is in it only for the money.  Thats why Im hoping this All Elmwood show takes off and cuts into his profits.  Year after year I went and found it more disappointing than the year before.  Drove to Iowa last year to see their show and had such a good time vowed never to return to the Interstate hole. Buddy of mine hasn’t gone for 5 years and went last week and said now I remember why I quit going.  Its a deer and turkey classic and should be limited to items related to that not some local Chiropractor selling his services.  What a frickin joke….  Im off to see a real show this weekend (IOWA)...  Don’t care where the deer is shot, I just like looking at big deer….

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/04 at 08:41 AM

I travel to most of the classics in and around our stae.  The Bloomington show is by far the worst show and idea as far as local as I have ever seen.  I’m very disappointed in the booth’s that were there.  Not sure who decided to have non hunting style booths there but thats for the mall’s not a hunting show.  Took my daughter to the show and she comminted several times of the amount of drinking that goes on.  And she is 6 by the way.  Peoria need’s to get there standards in line for there show and keep this fun for the family. I mean it’s about hunting not drinking. I’m all for a good time but not at this show, or at least restrict it some.  I saw 1 young man that was so drunk his friend had to practically carry him out the back door thru the Mud..??  Just my thoughts.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 03/04 at 07:39 PM

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