INDIANAPOLIS — The nation’s largest consumer sports exhibit, the Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show, has been canceled for 2021 due to health concerns and venue capacity restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The cancellation is the first time since the 1950s that the city has not hosted the show — which fills buildings at the Indiana State Fairgrounds with boats, RVs, campers, watercraft and fishing equipment.
“This is the first time in our 66-year history that we’ve ever postponed a show, and it’s a major disappointment to our entire organization,” said Kevin Renfro, with Anderson, Ind.-based Renfro Productions, Inc., which produces and manages the show, in a statement. “But the good news is that we expect to be back bigger and better than ever in 2022.”
The announcement on social media brought mixed reactions from fans of the show.
“This must have been a very difficult decision. Thank you for waiting to make the call when other shows canceled earlier. I completely understand. It is the right decision as there are so many large crowds at the show,” Holli Tyran-White posted to the show’s Facebook page. “It’s not living in fear. It’s the right decision to keep everyone safe and to follow the guidelines.”
“Just cancel life,” Lawrence Gibson commented. “Everybody is caving in to a common cold.”
The show was scheduled to take place Feb. 19-28 and also featured the Indiana Motorcycle and Powersports Expo (Feb. 19-21) and the Indiana Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl Expo (Feb. 25-28), which have both been canceled. Combined, the three shows filled every building at the fairgrounds.
COVID-19 and state limits on attendance “have convinced us that we can’t put on these shows and maintain our established level of excellence and meet the expectations of both our attendees and exhibitors,” Renfro said in the statement.
Renfro Productions also puts on two sports shows in Cincinnati, a Boat, Sport & Travel Show and a Golf Show, which have been canceled.
To support exhibitors, Renfro said it will have a special e-Reader edition of the show programs for the 2021 shows in Indianapolis and Cincinnati. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.
The 2022 Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show is scheduled to begin Feb. 18.