WildIndiana, meet Wild Indiana

Fishing legend Kevin VanDam will be in attendance January 14 at this year's Wild Indiana Outdoor Expo. Photo provided.

Editors note: There has been considerable confusing regarding the WildIndiana (one word) brand and the Wild Indiana Outdoor Expo held in Kokomo in January. 

WildIndiana has been a domain name for 15 years and is an established trademark.  The Wild Indiana Outdoor Expo is only a few years old and is not related in any way to WildIndiana.com or Signal 10 Media LLC.

However the world is a pretty large place and we know there is room for both to co-exist peacefully.  The Wild Indiana Outdoor Expo has developed a great reputation and we heartily encourage area residents to check out the show in January 14-15.

Even better, we like their choice of name….

For the third year the largest, most comprehensive outdoor show in north-central Indiana will again take place in Kokomo. The bar was set during the inaugural event where over 3,000 visitors passed through the door. All the stops have been pulled and this year’s program will be unlike any other in Indiana.

Wild Indiana Outdoor Expo will take place January 14 and 15 at the spacious Kokomo Conference and Event Center. Doors open from 9AM to 6 PM Saturday and 9AM to 5 PM Sunday. Sponsors include WWKI, Erik’s, Financial Builders Credit Union, Clifford Signs, North Central Outdoor Power, Greater Kokomo Business Bureau and Sherm’s Marine.

The event covers everything outdoors. From guns to gardening and campers to crankbaits the event hopes to help make your 2017 outdoor activities the best they can be. Over 75 vendors have reserved booth space to showcase their product or services. Admission price is $5.00.

BASS University
But this year has been made even more special. Consider it an outdoor trifecta. In addition to the many vendors, Wild Indiana will host BASS University, the most comprehensive bass fishing program in the world. Classroom instruction will feature a dynamic lineup of new pros, fishing superstars and legends of the bass fishing world. BASS U is only offered at limited locations throughout the United States and Kokomo was selected.

Participants can register for the two day event by going to The BASS University website and signing up. Cost for both days is $200 but tickets can also be purchased for individual days when selecting ticket options.

Six pros will host a total of 12 seminars presenting students with cutting edge fishing tactics, techniques and tackle. Because of the yearlong work by Wild Indiana committee members Kokomo was fortunate in securing the biggest names in angling.

In the bass fishing world Kevin VanDam sits at the top. In addition to his instruction at BASS U, he is set to take the public stage January 14.

VanDam, known as KVD, is considered to be one of the best in the world. To list his many accomplishments would be futile. When it comes to professional bass fishing he is as close to perfection as they come.

Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, one of the most intense and widely popular anglers will be in attendance January 15. In addition to his fishing accomplishments he is also a prominent TV personality. He is the only angler to have won the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Angler of the Year and B.A.S.S National Championship.

Other nationally recognized bass anglers scheduled to be in attendance include Bryan Thrift, Mike McClelland, Seth Feider and Bill Lowan.

Hunter Education
An IDNR certified hunter education class will also be provided during this year’s Wild Indiana. The free, 10 hour class is set for January 14 from 8A.M. to 2 P.M. and January 15 from noon to 4P.M.

Hunter Ed is mandatory for anyone born after December 31, 1986 before purchasing a valid Indiana hunting license. The class will cover complete firearms safety, hunter ethics and responsibilities along with wildlife conservation. First aid, archery and tree stand safety will also be presented.

The IDNR Hunter Ed is a one and done program. Once completed the student is certified for life. It is important to note that many other states require proof of successful completion of the hunter ed. program before purchasing a hunting license.

Hunter Ed is free and targeted to those 10 years and above. To receive a hunter ed. Certificate, students must score a minimum 70 percent correct on the 100-question final exam.

Students can register for hunter ed. by going to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website and clicking on the Hunter Ed link. You can also contact Howard County Coordinator Denny Heaton at (765) 883-5033

The educational series continues with presentations by highly respected and expert multi-paddler Garry Hill. He will enlighten those in attendance with a presentation on how to canoe and kayak while fishing local waters.

Professional crappie anglers Mike Bledsoe and Doug Sikora will take the stage and offer up techniques for catching slab sided crappies.

Show stopper Mark Booth and his birds of prey will also be on hand both days. His informative presentations are known throughout Indiana and captivate guests with his at times theatrical presentations with his many raptors.

For a listing of presentations and speaker schedules visit Wild Indiana on Facebook and watch for additional details in this weekly column.

In case you are wondering how a small town like Kokomo can host such an all-inclusive outdoor show with some of our world’s top professionals. It was brought about through year-long work by committee members who wanted to do their part in promoting everything outdoors, families and their community.

Wild Indiana Outdoor Expo committee members include Michelle Martin, Jim Parsons, Aaron Hochstedler, Henry Cavazos, Roby Ahnert, Jeff Rude and Dave Brammer.

I want to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas on this special day.

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John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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