After 30 Years, Madison Fishing Expo “Spawns” the NEW Wisconsin Fishing Expo
Madison, WI – Not all good things need to come to an end – some just lead to a new beginning. Over the last 30 years, the Madison Fishing Expo (MFE) has grown to become one of the largest and most respected all-fishing expos in the nation. And, after having reached such all-time highs, the decision was made by the current MFE Board of Directors to release all show operations to their trusted marketing partner, Bast-Durbin Advertising (BDA). The new managing agency will continue to build on the legacy started by the founding MFE members in 1985. Under BDA, the show name will be refreshed to the Wisconsin Fishing Expo (WFE).
Current MFE President, Chuck Rolfsmeyer, said that after 30 years it will be strange to step back and hand the reigns over, but he is confident that the new Wisconsin Fishing Expo owners will make the show better than ever.
“We never thought, 30 years ago, that the Fishing Expo would grow to be what it has become today,” said Rolfsmeyer. “Who would have ever guessed that a bunch of fishing buddies could pull off a show that now draws over 20,000 anglers through the doors each year. We started this out just to put on a good show that brought some much needed exposure to fishing – we never dreamed the show’s proceeds would allow us to fund so many conservation projects through the years or that it would bring so much good to the community, as a whole.”
Not to be confused with a launch of an all-new show, the transition between Madison Fishing Expo and the refreshed Wisconsin Fishing Expo is nothing more than the evolution of an originally great idea. New show producers, BDA, felt the name change was needed to help draw attention to the simple fact that the Expo benefits ALL waters of Wisconsin, not just those in Dane County. Furthermore,
interest in the show and all it offers reaches far beyond the Dane County borders, with attendees originating from nearly every county in the state – and beyond.
Truth be told, after 30 years of hard work in the “show” business, many of the current MFE Board simply wanted to spend a little more time fishing – which is well deserved. The new proprietors of the Wisconsin Fishing Expo, Dan Durbin and Jeff Bast, have been managing all advertising, public relations and sponsorship duties for the current Madison Fishing Expo for nearly 20 years. Over that time, they’ve have become very familiar with the inner workings of the show and have come to understand what is in the best interests of both the vendors and the attendees. BDA is eager to carry on many of the same traditions started by the original MFE founders, as well as, start a few of their own.
Steve Hauge, the past President and Vice President, as well as, the perennial booth and boat space manager, will stay on and assist BDA in their effort to push forward with the Wisconsin Fishing Expo. Other founding Board members will also stay on in a consulting roll.
“The Madison Fishing Expo, as a non-profit organization, will live on and continue to fund fishing-related programs,” said Hauge. “Many people on the Board just felt we had taken the show as far as we were currently able to and it was time to let some younger blood run the show and add some fresh ideas to the mix. Bast and Durbin have agreed to continue donating a percentage of proceeds from the Wisconsin Fishing Expo to MFE’s non-profit organization, who in turn, will decide where funding will go on a local level.”
No strangers to the outdoor industry, Dan Durbin and Jeff Bast have over 40 years of experience between them. They opened the first office for the Wisconsin Outdoor News, the state’s largest outdoor publication, over 20 years ago and continue to act as the Publisher’s Representative and home office in the state of Wisconsin. Further, their agency manages the advertising for five additional consumer sporting expos across the Midwest, including the Outdoor Life/Field and Stream Wisconsin Deer & Turkey Expo, which currently uses the same venue as the Wisconsin Fishing Expo.
“This was a very positive move for the MFE,” said Dan Durbin. “We, ourselves, have been attending the MFE for over 20 years as a vendor, on behalf of the Wisconsin Outdoor News, and then later playing a dual roll when we took over all marketing for the MFE. Last year was one of MFE’s most highly attended shows! The fact is – we love the show and what it provides to the sport of fishing. We didn’t want to see it go away at its peak, nor did we want to see it absorbed by a larger entity that wouldn’t respect its tradition. We want to expand on those traditions.”
In addition to continuing the growth of the Fishing Expo, both Bast and Durbin agree that they must give something back to preserve the legacy that the original MFE founders worked so hard to build. Not only to honor that legacy, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. All current conservation organizations, who collectively
make up the Madison Fishing Expo, have thrown their support behind BDA and the transition towards the Wisconsin Fishing Expo in 2016.
“We fully recognize all that the non-profit fishing clubs do for the Madison area and surrounding areas,” said Jeff Bast. “They are the backbone of the Fishing Expo and we will continue to support them at the show and well beyond. It is a partnership that will continue.”
For more information on the 2016 Wisconsin Fishing Expo please contact Bast-Durbin Advertising at 800-975-3474 or visit www.wifishexpo.com
For more information on Bast-Durbin Advertising and the services they offer, please visit www.bastdurbin.com