Gearing Up For Fred Hall Shows

Fred Hall Special 2018 (Trailer) from Angler Chronicles on Vimeo.

As the above video states, it’s Fred Hall Shows time in Central and Southern California. Beginning with the Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show that begins on Thursday in Bakersfield, there are three shows – Long Beach from March 7-11 and Del Mar from March 22-25 that cater to outdoors lovers.

Here’s a Q&A that we did with show owner Bart Hall, son of the popular show’s founder and namesake.


By Chris Cocoles

It never gets old for Bart Hall – carrying on his dad’s vision of producing big events for outdoors lovers of everything from hunting to fishing to jet skiing and which began nearly three-quarters of a century ago.

Today, the Fred Hall Shows – Bakersfield from March 2-4, Long Beach from March 7-11 and Del Mar (San Diego) from March 22-25 – bring together thousands of sportsmen and -women who want to check out the newest gear, destination resorts and have an interactive outdoor experience. 

Bart, Fred’s son, coordinates the show and takes pride in the success of his three events – Bakersfield’s Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show joined the family last year – and their being a fixture each March for hunters, anglers, boaters and kayakers. We chatted with Bart Hall about his dad’s legacy and what to look for in 2018. 

Chris Cocoles This event has been such a great vision that your dad Fred first had since just after World War II. Do you find it hard to fathom how successful the Fred Hall Shows have become? 

Bart Hall You know, I just produced a commercial where I am speaking and I say in the commercial, “I am proud of our 72-year-old history and amazed that the little show my father produced at Gilmore Stadium in 1946 could have grown into the 2018 version of the Fred Hall Show.” I remember those shows as a kid, when kids were free to run around without fear in those days and I thought the Fred Hall Shows were my own personal playground. I got to shoot arrows with big game archer Howard Hill; I got to log roll with the lumberjacks and so much more. But nobody ever thought the Fred Hall Shows – and they weren’t called the Fred Hall Shows then; they were called the Sportsmen’s Shows – would ever grow into what they are today. I remember the day before my dad died I took him around the Long Beach show in a golf cart and said, “Dad, look at this … Look at what you’ve created.” And, of course, they are even bigger now.

CC Your website calls the Fred Hall Shows “The Ultimate Outdoor Experience.” What do you think the outdoor experience meant to Fred Hall? 

BH When my dad was a young man he grew up fishing in Florida. He loved hunting, especially bird hunting. Towards the end of the war my dad worked for Mel Morrison, my godfather, at a company called Crowd Management Inc. They provided ushers, ticket sellers and gatemen to all of the sporting events in Southern California. My dad realized that with all of the sports they were associated with – baseball, football, basketball, horse racing, “the fights,” wrestling, track and field, and even roller derby – outdoor recreation was not included. So in 1945, the year I was born, my dad went to Mel one day and said, “Let’s produce a sportsmen’s show.” And Mel’s response was, “What the hell’s a sportsmen’s show?” The rest is history. The first show was in April of 1946.

CC Are there any differences among those potential visitors who can only attend one show among Bakersfield, Long Beach and Del Mar?

BH All three Fred Hall Shows have a lot in common and some striking differences. Bakersfield is first on the schedule this year. We took over that show last year and we were reluctant to call it a “Fred Hall Show.” When you do that you imply certain things to people and we didn’t want to disappoint them. But with a lot of hard work from the Fred Hall Show staff and former owner Mike Hatcher we were able to add a new fishing hall, add dozens of boat manufacturers and expand the small hunting section. However, this show has its own special signature and that is that the Fred Hall Central Valley Sports Show is one of the most successful RV shows in the Western United States. There will be over 300 RVs on display at this event and most of them will get sold at the show or in the next six months. It’s a great RV show. 

The Long Beach show is the world’s largest sportfishing show, California’s largest trailer boat show and a world-class hunting and fishing travel show. We even have firearms on display at the giant Turner’s Outdoorsman and Oak Tree Gun Club booths. The Fred Hall Show at the Long Beach Convention Center is unique among shows in the world. If you haven’t seen it, you need to before you die. It is a bucket-list experience for outdoor recreation enthusiasts.

The San Diego Show is 42 years old and it’s my favorite show. It’s big enough to rate national recognition but small enough that you can get the feel of the “old time” shows and the intimacy that comes with a more relaxed atmosphere. It is simply the biggest fishing show, biggest boat show and biggest outdoor recreation event in the world’s sixth largest economy.

CC What new exhibits are set for
the shows?

BH There are going to be a lot more boats at all of these shows. There are simply more boats that want to come in than we have room for at all three events. Long Beach is going to have some “killer” marine electronics displays, including some boats on the water demonstrating cool marine electronic products. And Long Beach, in keeping with the trend of the last 10 years, will have more hunting displays than ever. 

Del Mar will be overflowing with boats and Hobie is using that show to present a factory-style showcase to their amazing product line of Mirage Drive kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and inflatable kayaks. At all three shows, in the Hobie Kayak Seminar Area we will have the “Show Up and Blow Up” contest, where anyone can sign up to blow up a Hobie inflatable kayak. The winning time will win a Hobie i11S inflatable kayak. Bakersfield will have even more fishing tackle, the very popular hourly drawing in the new fishing hall and all of the new RV’s for 2018. And Mammoth Lakes is presenting a new 360 virtual-reality Mammoth Lakes experience at the shows. Don’t miss that spectacular event.

CC What are some of the activities to look for?

BH Among the three shows there will be over 700 seminars. Long Beach alone will have over 400 seminars and workshops. There is the Daiwa Bass Bin; the Cousins Seminar Stage; the Accurate Fishing Saltwater Tank; the Mammoth Lakes Seminar Area; the Hobie Seminar Theater; Hobie test rides on the Hyatt Lagoon; Casting by Daiwa; Shimano and Avet on the lagoon; the Ram Trucks Ultimate Air Dogs; the Great American Duck Races; the Mammoth Lakes and Shakespeare Kids Fish Free Trout Pond; the Fishing in the City Kids Casting Contest, the Deep Blue Dive Pool; the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack show; and a reprise of the Jack Dagger: The King of Fling Knife-Throwing show. 

CC You get so many different visitors in terms of boaters, kayakers, hikers, fishermen, etc. Does it make you proud to know that after all these years the Fred Hall Shows showcase how diverse the outdoors can be in California?

BH Yes, California is amazing. One entire coast is covered in saltwater with all of that fishing. We are located next to (Mexico), which has great tropical fishing. We have the greatest sportfishing fleet in the world. The Colorado River covers a good portion of our eastern flank and the great system of lakes in the north and south and the amazing bounty of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains are unmatched in any other state. Bass and trout fishing are off the charts. 

We are the only state where you can shoot all three species of elk. We have good deer hunting, turkey hunting, duck hunting, and dove and quail hunting. And while we have problems on all fronts for outdoor recreation, saltwater angling is under intense attack from poorly informed people who want to end sportfishing in the ocean. 

That is why, at the Long Beach and Del Mar Shows, if you join the Coastal Conservation Association of California you will not only get into the Fred Hall Shows for free but you will get a goodie bag worth far more than what you paid to join CCA-CAL, which is a national organization, and every angler should be part of CCA-CAL just like every hunter should belong to the NRA. We need this organization. Recently, environmental extremists tried to completely outlaw Pacific bluefin tuna fishing. CCA-CAL was partially, if not wholly, responsible for allowing anglers a two-fish-per-day limit. Without these folks it would have been zero fish. Join this organization at the Fred Hall Shows. CS

Editor’s note: Like the Fred Hall Shows at Follow on Twitter (@fredhallshows) and Instagram (@officialfredhallshows).