The 22nd Annual Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic will be held at the State Fairgrounds in Columbia March 24-26. Doors will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, March 24; from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 25; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, March 26.
New and returning major attractions for 2006 are "Twiggy-The Water Skiing Squirrel," "The SwampMaster" Alligator Show, Okefenokee Joe, Roark Ferguson and Joe Kelly's display of North American Wildlife Collection and Southern Whitetail Collection. Also in 2006, the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic will feature its first archery contest where participants may bring their own bow and arrows and compete in an archery contest sponsored by the Palmetto Archery Federation and the Lake Marion Archery Club.
For more information on the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic, call the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Columbia office at (803) 734-4008 or visit the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic Web site at www.psclassic.com.
Admission to the 2006 Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic is $6, and parking is $1. Seniors 60 and over get in for $5 while children 10 and under are admitted free. Visitors bringing five canned-food items for Harvest Hope Food Bank receive $1 off admission. Hours are noon to 8 p.m. Friday, March 24; from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The DNR's education staff and volunteers will be on hand to help kids catch a catfish at the highly popular SC Reel Kids Fishing Pond. "Kids can fish for free and sign up to join SC Reel Kids, an educational incentive program that teaches angling, ethics and aquatic resources," said BeBe Harrison, DNR aquatic education coordinator. "Not only will they have fun fishing at the Classic, we'll give them a photo of their catch and more to take home. If they are already a 'Reel Kid' and bring their license by the Reel Kids booth, they will receive a special prize."
Classic-goers will find more than 300 exhibitors on site with the latest fishing, hunting and outdoor equipment for show and sale. Several free events include special seminars on deer hunting by South Carolina's own Joe Kelly, snakes by Okefenokee Joe, and a unique reptile exhibit in the Ruff Building; DNR's Take One Make One trailer-based D.A.R.T. shooting range; Bass Tub fishing technique demonstrations; a national Buckmasters indoor archery competition.
The Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic is sponsored by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, South Carolina Wildlife magazine, WIS-TV, WCOS-FM Radio, Professional Printers and Bob Redfern's Outdoor Magazine. The Hampton Fund uses proceeds to fund natural resources conservation projects in South Carolina. Examples include programs such as Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs; Operation Game Thief; Project WILD and the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program. The Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic has raised thousands of dollars over the years to benefit education and outreach programs throughout the state.