Sunday, February 22, 2015

Upcountry Embraces Classic

I'm no more a fan of sitting in a traffic line waiting to park than is anyone else. That said, I like what it tells me about bass fishing fans in the South Carolina Upcountry, and it illustrates one of the reasons the Bassmaster Classic was back to Greenville and Lake Hartwell this year. I got within a mile of the TD Convention Center about five minutes before the expo was supposed to begin this morning, and traffic was lined onto the road. Some lots were already filled and others were filling quickly. By the time I got in the expo, at a little after 10:00 a.m., it looked like the show had been going full stream for half a day, with every aisle packed and all the booths hopping.

Every industry friend I've spoken with in the expo has been thrilled by the crowds. And not just by numbers. The South Carolina Upcountry crowd visits booths to talk fishing, check out stuff and buy stuff. They are fishermen and fishing fans.

In 2008, the only other time the Classic has been in this area, the Expo was similarly full (in fact, I'm pretty sure the fire marshal had to close entry for a while on Saturday), and the crowd excitement in the arena was some of the best I've witnessed at a Classic. I expect the same level of tonight. In fact, it might be more, with South Carolina's own Casey Ashley in legitimate contention. If he wins, they'll blow the roof off the place!

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