Looking across the waters from a rocky beach to distant islands. The icture is dominated by blue sky and ocean

The #1 Outdoor Adventure Show in North Vancouver Island

More than 2,600 people went to the North Island Outdoor Adventure Show last year. 

“Most of them were from Courtenay and Campbell River. A good portion from Parksville, Nanaimo and then it got pretty slim, but Quadra, Gold River, Victoria, Qualicum. There was one that really  blew my mind: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia,” explained Joel Wheeldon, Program Coordinator with the Strathcona Regional District. 

Google  ‘what is the #1 outdoor recreation show in North Vancouver Island,” and the first result will most likely be the North Island Outdoor Adventure Show. (It appears to be the only outdoor recreation show in the area. )

The North Island Outdoor Adventure Show is held in the Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex,  a function of the Strathcona Regional District.

This year it will be held on the weekend of April 20 & 21. Admission is FREE! The show is open 9:30 am – 5 pm on Saturday  and 10 am – 4 pm, Sunday.

The sponsors are Homalco Wildlife & Cultural Tours, Qaya Way West Transportation, All-in One-Party Shop, and 97.3 FM the Eagle.

Cortes Currents: What are you trying to accomplish through this event? 

Joel Wheeldon: “The vision is to provide a community event that showcases all the great  outdoor activities that North Vancouver Island has to offer, also  giving a chance for the outdoor adventure companies an opportunity to promote and sell all their great products all in one place. There’s a lot of stuff that some locals and even tourists probably don’t know that we offer here.”

Cortes Currents: What kind of things are you showcasing that people don’t already know about?  

Joel Wheeldon: “We’re trying to showcase anything from boating, fishing, hunting, camping, recreational vehicles, paddle sports, mountain biking, adventure tours.   We’ve got a couple of vendors that are doing outdoor and marine education courses, some photography stuff, survival gear. I’m probably missing a few, but that’s the gist of it.”

Cortes Currents: The list of exhibitors includes a number of Comox and Courtenay companies, as well as more distant businesses like the Horne Lake Caves in Qualicum Beach, Explore Nootka from the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the Marine Education & Research Society from Port McNeill.

The most numerous contingent appeared to be from Campbell River

Joel Wheeldon: “We’ve got Campbell River Boatland,  Campbell River Whale Watching, the Campbell River Fly Shop, Bill Howich RV and Marine, Eagle Eye Adventures, Homalco Wildlife and Cultural Tours, River Sportsman, Tyee Marine, Pedal Your World, Tideline to Timberline (they are a fishing guide outfit), 50 North Adventures, Way West Transportation, Far North Visuals, Disco Tackleworks,  Corilair Charters, Campbell  River Skydive Centre, Brown’s Bay Resort,  Beyond Sailing, and Campbell River Fish and Wildlife Association.”  

Cortes Currents: Do you have any exhibitors from Quadra, Cortes or any of the Discovery Islands? 

He listed four Quadra Island companies, some of which also operate in Cortes and other Discovery Islands.

Joel Wheeldon: “Quadra Island Kayaks, Jade Resort, Wild Waterways Adventures, and Steep Island Lodge have booths at this year’s show.” 

Cortes Currents: The Tula Foundation is also listed among the exhibitors. Local residents are probably more familiar with one of its arms, the Hakai Institute, which has an office on Quadra Island. The Hakai Institute often works with the Friends of Cortes Island on environmental monitoring projects, is one of the Cortes Island Academy’s facilitators and has frequently been interviewed by Folk U and Cortes Currents.

Noticeably absent from the list of exhibitors for this year’s North Island Outdoor Adventure Show are companies from Cortes Island, though tourism is one of the cornerstones of our economy. 

Cortes Currents: When’s the deadline for signing up? 

Joel Wheeldon: It’s probably a pretty tight deadline for them now to try and get a booth, but you never know. Right now we have two 8×10 exhibitor booths left. So if there’s anyone out there that’s interested, we’d love to have you. When all of our booths are filled, we’ll cut it off.

Cortes Currents: Will there be food vendors? 

Joel Wheeldon: “We will have our facility concession open. We sell hot and cold food and beverages, and I will say that they have the best poutine in town.” 

“For food vendors, we only really have one that I would classify a food vendor. They’re a freeze dried company called Happy Camper Freeze Dried. It’s more candy from what I understand.” 

Cortes Currents: Is there something there for the children? 

Joel Wheeldon: “We don’t have a specific kids zone at the show, but  from last year’s show, a lot of the vendors had activities for kids to do.  There should be stuff for everyone.  Bring the family, come enjoy all the outdoor adventure companies we have to showcase and let’s have a weekend of outdoor adventure.”

To  book a space or becoming a sponsor: phone 250-830-6755 or email nioas@srd.ca.

Top image credit: Looking across the Suitl Channel at waters familiar to an adventure tour company like Wild Waterways Adventures – Photo by Dale Simonson via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

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