Traverse City Hunting & Fishing Expo moving to Gaylord

The Traverse City Fishing & Hunting Expo will no longer be held in Traverse City. It will be held in Gaylord and be known as the Gaylord Ultimate Hunting Expo. (FILE photo)

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- The annual Hunting & Fishing Expo will no longer be held in Traverse City.

According to a post on the event's Facebook page, the show will now be known as the Gaylord Ultimate Hunting Expo and will be held at the Ellison Place.

The event was held at the Grand Traverse Civic Center for more than two decades.

The organizer for the expo, Jim Liska says parking is one reason for the move.

According to Liska, Grand Traverse County doesn't want trailers to be parked in the grassy area behind the civic center.

Liska says he needs that space to leave parking spaces open for customers.

"I have 80 exhibitors. If 80 exhibitors are occupying the lot with the trailers that takes 40 percent of our parking spaces out of the take," said Liska.

The Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Department and Commission says they haven't officially been told about the change in locations.

"We have not had any correspondence from this vendor to tell us why he's decided not to come back. We're guessing it has to do with parking but we have no way to know for sure. No way to negotiate with that when we don't know what the concern truly is," said John Roth, the President for the Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Roth also says that while the county knows parking can be an issue at these events they have been willing to work with vendors while maintaining the area behind the Civic Center Building.

"We know as we get busier and busier at the Civic Center we're going to have to figure out other areas to create parking but we also have to understand that it's a park and there are other areas of the park that we cannot have people parking trailers and trucks on," said Roth.

Jim Liska said the Johnson Family of Gaylord's Johnson Oil and Propane and Big Boys Adventure TV have taken notice of the show in Traverse City and have pursued a similar event in Gaylord.

Kevin Johnson opened Ellison Place Event center off exit 279 on I-75 about two years ago.

They says they are thrilled to have the event at the Ellison Place in 2019.

"Ever since we opened it my dad and I have been bugging Jim we've gotta bring this to Gaylord it's just a no brainer. We've got this beautiful building now we know that we can do an amazing show for you guys so we're just really happy that we're finally bringing it to Gaylord," said Jada Johnson, a host for Big Boys Adventure TV.

The center's building used to be the home of the old Jay's Sporting Goods store.

Liska said he will now be a part of a five person team that will be putting the hunting show together.

A new show logo, website and Facebook page are in the works.

If you would like to see what Ellison Place looks like, you can check out their website.

The Gaylord Ultimate Hunting Expo will be held March 15-17, 2019.

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