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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

AMERICAN AND CANADIAN SPORT, TRAVEL, AND OUTDOOR SHOW

AMERICAN AND CANADIAN SPORT, TRAVEL, AND OUTDOOR SHOW

The AMERICAN AND CANADIAN SPORT, TRAVEL, AND OUTDOOR SHOW, an annual event in Cleveland, was first held in 1927 at the PUBLIC AUDITORIUM and ran until 1930, when it was discontinued due to the Depression. Commonly referred to as the Sportman's Show, it resumed in 1937 and has taken place every year since then. The original event was the idea of Clevelanders Aaron W. Newman, who ran the show until his death in 1963, and Morris Ackerman, the outdoor writer for the CLEVELAND PRESS. The idea behind the first show in 1927 was to allow manufacturers of outdoor and sports equipment to display their products and to encourage the public's growing interest in the recreational value of the outdoors.

The early shows featured exhibits and demonstrations relating to boating, hunting, fishing, and camping, as well as golf, baseball, and tennis gear; potted fir, spruce, and cedar transformed the auditorium into an outdoor setting. In 1937 it reopened as the American & Canadian Sportsman's Show, sponsored by Expositions, Inc., under Newman and an advisory committee representing American and Canadian sportsmen and business organizations. The show drew 105,000. During the 1940s, its main attraction was the huge indoor tank used for demonstrations of log rolling, boating, and other water sports. Lucille Newman managed the show after her husband's death, selling Expositions, Inc., to Dave Fassnacht and Betty Friedlander in 1968. By this time the name had changed to the American & Canadian Sportsman's Vacation & Boat Show, reflecting a new emphasis on family vacations. Exhibits of recreational vehicles, together with an increasing number of travel booths, attested to the show's popularity, with over 200,000 attending annually in the 1970s. It became officially known as the American & Canadian Sport, Travel, and Outdoor Show in the 1980s. The show moved from the Cleveland Convention Center (Public Hall) to the new I-X CENTER in 1985. By 1995 the event had expanded to 10 days, with an estimated attendance of 269,500 for the show's 650 exhibitions. Chris Fassnacht and Mike Neely served as the event's co-managers.