MAKING A SPLASH
For most people in the lakes area, Saturday's sunny skies and warm temperatures were cause for celebration.
But for organizers of the Lakes Area Builders Association's Home, Garden & Sport Show, it was cause for trepidation instead.
"In order to have a great show, you have to have crappy weather," joked LRBA executive officer Sharon Westerholm.
Except she wasn't entirely kidding. Attendance was down slightly for this year's show, despite adding the sport expo component to the lineup for the first time.
"We were hoping to get 1,500 people with the sport show in there this year," Westerholm said.
Instead, total attendance stood at 989 people for the two days of the show, which ran Saturday and Sunday at Kent Freeman Arena in Detroit Lakes.
"You don't want to do an indoor show when it's nice outside," said exhibitor Gary Thompson of Tri-State Diving, who set up a pool inside the arena for those who wanted to try out scuba diving.
"I think the weather hurt us," he added.
Despite this, Westerholm said, most of the vendors on the sport side of the venue indicated that they would be back.
In fact, the feedback overall was very positive.
"Everyone we talked to said it was a great show," Westerholm said. "The people coming through loved the layout of the show, the seminars and everything. All in all, I think it was very good."
Thompson was also a presenter for one of the many live seminars that took place during the show; his focused on fishing from a diver's perspective.
"With over 3,000 hours of diving with the fish, you kind of become one with them," Thompson joked, adding that one thing he's learned over the years is that "90 percent of the fish are in 10 percent of the lake."
The challenge lies in finding where that 10 percent is, he noted.
Thompson's scuba exhibition was a first for this year's show, and it was a particular hit with the younger crowd.
"The kids loved that more than anybody," Westerholm said.
Despite lower-than-anticipated attendance, Thompson said he would like to come back next year.
"You can't control the weather," he said. "I'll definitely put in a booth again."
Besides Thompson's seminar, others focused on landscaping for do-it-yourselfers, tips for fighting zebra mussel infestation, house cleaning "the green way," the Habitat for Humanity program, creative container gardening and making living wreaths.
"The seminars were really well attended," Westerholm said.
In general, the vendors were quite happy as well, she added.
"They said there were a lot of people coming in, talking about doing projects, which is what this show is about," Westerholm continued.
Though the home building industry is slowly showing signs of improvement, the economy continues to play a role in the type and scope of building projects that are happening in the lakes area, she said.
New home construction, while showing some improvement, continues to be affected by the state of the U.S. economy as a whole.
"The economy is still not where people are comfortable (with building new homes) yet," Westerholm said. "It seemed most of the projects people were talking about were additions or remodeling (of an existing home)."
Though overall attendance might not have been what they were hoping to see, Westerholm said the silent auction fundraiser went well, as did the raffle for a "crooked" playhouse.
The playhouse raffle was to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes, and Westerholm said they sold around 400 tickets.
The silent auction, meanwhile, raised enough money to fund seven $1,000 LRBA scholarships for prospective students in the building trades -- architecture, carpentry, masonry, electrical, plumbing, heating, etc.
"That's about the same as last year," Westerholm said.