BY MIKE STEVENS
SAN CLEMENTE— With show season now underway, Western Outdoor News once again connected with Bill DePriest of Pacific Coast Sportfishing (PCS) to talk about what’s new and exciting about the upcoming PCS Show and take a look back on the event’s timeline and how it blew up to what it is today.
Can you briefly recap the PCS Show’s timeline as far as the size and scope beginning in the early years, and how it has progressed to this point and especially what occurred over the last few years when it really blew up?
We have been producing the Pacific Coast Sportfishing Show for 14 years now. In the early years our goal was to produce the purest fishing show around. We did not grow so fast as not to dilute our offerings with products that do not belong in our industry. By doing so, the show grew slowly and organically. Our seminars were always second to none. We have always had the most in-depth, instructional seminars that typically had 200 plus people sitting and as many standing to watch. In 2022 we jumped up to three halls and in turn were able to add to the mix with some freshwater vendors and more retail sales. This gave us the jump to be able to take over the entire Orange County Fair and Event Center in 2023 and keep our show pure to salt and freshwater fishing, boating and the outdoors. Our seminars continue to educate anglers on a wide variety of topics. We are so thankful and proud that we can now put on such a large show and bring together the fishing and outdoors community all in one place, centrally located in Orange County.
Another aspect that we are so happy with is that the show is so family friendly. We have multiple trout ponds as well as activities for the young ones, live bands playing, plus tons of great food. We saw so many families stay the entire day while the kids participated in the activities and the adults enjoyed the seminars and shopping. The show is so large that it is almost impossible to see it all in one day and you can spend a few days enjoying it if you like!
Looking back at last year’s show, the biggest ever and clearly a success, what were you most impressed with, and in what areas did you see room for improvement?
It was truly amazing to see the turnout of attendees. The entry in the morning before the doors were opened was filled with anglers and family’s alike that were so excited to get together with other outdoors enthusiasts. They were there for the seminars, the retail, the entertainment and to celebrate a passion for the outdoors with others.
Last year, unfortunately, we were not able to fit in all the vendors that wanted to be at our show even with the growth we still had a waiting list. We have adjusted some things and will be able to include more, but it looks like we will still have a waitlist of vendors.
Last year the PCS Show added buildings to accommodate all the additional vendors, and it seemed pretty full during the show. We heard some things are going to be shifted around in 2024 in order to make even more room for more booths, could you break that down for us?
Yes, in 2023 we were packed to the brim with vendors and unfortunately had to put some on waitlists. This year to accommodate even more booths we have moved all the boat bulk spaces to the breezeways and center area of the fairgrounds. This in turn opened up more space in the buildings to fit more booths.
We are thrilled to be able to accommodate even more vendors and continue to produce Southern California’s premier fishing and outdoors show.
Is it too early to start talking about any new vendors that are locked in for 2024?
We will be releasing a total list in the upcoming weeks. We had a return rate for vendors of almost 100% and most grew the size of their booths as well. With the new space created by moving large boat displays we are able to open up and have welcomed many new vendors of which we are excited for the attendees to enjoy.
Have any vendor sectors (tackle, freshwater, destinations, boats, sportboats, etc.) grown more significantly than the others in 2024?
Many have grown substantially for 2024. Turner’s Outdoorsman is larger, West Coast Marine is almost double in size, Shimano has grown substantially along with Melton Tackle and many more.
What are your goals as a show producer going into this one?
Our goal is to continue to grow with more vendors, more entertainment, and more seminars in turn to offer our attendees more bang for their buck. We want to make sure that every outdoor enthusiast, whether new or seasoned, walks away with new knowledge and a little greater love for the passion that we share for the outdoors. In that vein, we are also looking to raise even more funds for the War Heroes on Water and help CCA California continue to fight for our rights to fish.
The PCS show is March 7-10 at the O.C. Fair and Events Center. For more info and for tickets, click HERE.