The Kansas City Sportshow is back. Whether a novice boater or experienced captain, fishing pro or young angler looking to get their feet wet, there’s no better place to ring in the New Year than at the Sports Show held at Bartle Hall Jan. 10-13.

This is the 65th anniversary of the Kansas City Sportshow. I remember attending years ago at the old Municipal Auditorium.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the show was held in the old Municipal Auditorium. Basically, the format was the same except a circus was included for the admission price. This was quite a circus. Everyone carried bags full of free brochures into the auditorium and watched high wire acts, lion tamers and circus-type stuff. I mostly enjoyed some of the outdoor-oriented extras.

For example, a muzzled wrestling bear took on brave souls from the audience. If my memory serves correctly, a reward was offered to anyone who could pin the bear. Most people were not willing or anxious to roll around with a 800-pound bruin, but three or four burley men usually stepped forward and accepted the challenge and then defeat – the bear was darned good.

My friend, whom I will not mention by name, was an extremely strong man who just knew he could pin the bear. This bulk of a man decided he was going to out wrestle his hairy opponent and no doubt be the first to do so. He told me that a wrestling promoter would hear of his victory and offer him a big, fat wrestling contract to take on other humans.

Evidently the he-men of Kansas City stayed home that night, my friend was the only one to step forward to this challenge. The match started as most do, both opponents looked each other over a bit before clenching in the mat’s center. My friend sort of disappeared in the bear’s grasp.

The bear was manhandling my friend by tossing him from one paw to the other. The bear was having a great time. Then it happened. My friend broke away from the bear, doubled up his fist and hit him with all strength available in the chest, backed up and kicked the old bruin in the groin.

The large crowd groaned and the bear’s owner said, “Boy, you really shouldn’t have done that, I think you made him mad, not a very smart thing to do.” And then a grumbling started and quickly grew louder. Really it wasn’t grumbling but the sound of an extremely angry bear growling through his muzzle. The huge animal’s beady eyes narrowed with an apparent look of real hatred. My friend got the feeling that it was time to concede and started looking for a way to escape.

The bear grabbed my strong friend before he could get out of there, threw him on the mat and belly flopped on the befuddled tough guy. The crowd groaned. My friend’s eyes bugged out and he clearly thought the end was near. Then the still angry bear started rolling back and forth on my friend, who by now had lost the desire to fight a bear.

Fortunately, the trainer and 15 or 20 other guys finally dragged the flabbergasted bear off my well tenderized buddy. He actually started talking two or three hours later. That was the last bear-wrestling act they ever held in the auditorium. I am sure the insurance companies refused to insure the bear act after my buddy went a step too far.

Then there was the Native American who actually climbed to the auditorium’s top seats by the big wall clock and shot arrows down several stories to the target at center stage with the greatest accuracy. He was an archery master.

He climbed the steep steps while another act was performing. The audience suddenly become aware of where he was shooting from when the house lights were turned down and the spotlight centered on him with his bow and arrow fully drawn. The ringmaster announced what he was going to do and a great deal of mumbling could be heard from the backside of the stage.

People behind the target suddenly realized that one of them would become a shish-kabob if he missed. Suddenly a woman and two men jumped up and started running up the auditorium stairs. Three others followed and evidently their feet became tangled and they all fell down in a heap, sliding back down the stairs. The archer released his arrow about that time and it struck the target dead center. Red-faced, the shaken people walked up the steps, no doubt embarrassed and bruised.

Today’s show is more streamlined while still aimed at serious outdoor enthusiasts.

The 2019 show will feature more than 300 new boats to board and buy, fishing boats, pontoons and watersport boats to luxury vessels plus hundreds of outdoor gear options and marine accessories. The show also offers a variety of hands-on activities that will thrill even the youngest outdoor enthusiast.

The 5,000-gallon Hawg Trough – a fully stocked fishing demo tank, with daily, free seminars from pro anglers.

Willow Creek Trout Pond, where little ones can practice their angling skills for free, reeling in live trout.

The famous DockDogs competition returns, in which water-loving canines compete in notoriously fun, splash-friendly challenges.

New! Progressive Boat Club, in partnership with the Annapolis School of Seamanship, featuring educational seminars, a virtual boating simulator and remote-control pond to help sharpen boating skills.

KC Food Truck Mafia will serve up food. Trucks on-site include Monk's, KC BBQ and Roadkill Cafe.

The show runs 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Bartle Hall. Tickets are $12 for adults, and children under 12 are free.

For more information on show dealers and exhibits or to purchase tickets, visit Follow on social media at @KCBoatSportshow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or using #KCBoatShow.

– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at