Alliant Energy Center
1919 Alliant Energy Way
Friday 4:00 to 9:00 PM
Saturday 9:00 to 6:00
Sunday 10:00 to 5:00
$15.00 for a day pass
$25.00 for a weekend pass.
Note: Ages 17 and under: free.
$6.00 per car per day
Request a Show Guide
Canoecopia started small, a modest event called "meet the folks who build the boats." The original owner of Rutabaga hoped to sell a half a dozen canoes at his sidewalk sale. He sold eleven canoes (this is long before kayaks were around) and was delighted. That was around 1976.
In 1981, the word "Canoecopia" was first used in a mailer from the old store in Park Street. The sport was growing and Rutabaga began to rent the Dane County Forum and Arena, where we would empty the store of merchandise and pile it high, deep, and cheap. The 20,000 square-foot Forum building was barely large enough to handle the crowd, and we had one area draped off for the speaker. One speaker. That continued for a while with overflow into the Arena for boats and such.
In the early 90s the Dane County Forum was bulldozed to make room for the new Dane County Expositional Hall. We added 30,000 feet to a total of 50,000 square feet and had about 70 exhibitors. We now had three speaker rooms, not one, and Canoecopia started to grow in popularity. Year by year we added rooms until we took the whole hall, all 100,000 square feet, plus all the speaker and meeting rooms. Now we have six speaker rooms and are spilling over into the hallways. When the Alliant Energy Center (its new name) adds room, we'll add room too.
From a dozen customers and a few trailers of boats to over 20,000 annual attendees and hundreds of exhibitors didn't happen overnight. The reason Canoecopia grew is because of people like you. Thanks for your past attendance, and thanks in advance to new attendees. See you at the show!
Now for the pictures
One of the coolest things about Canoecopia is that everyone but everyone shows up for the event. Here Jim Clark, my buddy and the then-president of Perception descends from his corporate headquarters to speak with consumers. He likes to see where the rubber meets the road.
It's quite a job filling a 100,000 square foot hall with manufacturers, exhibitors, outfitters and finally, you. Here's a photo from the upper deck, just before we let you in.
Billy Turner from Perception tests his own product, while Brian Henry from Current Designs gives advise on writing instruments.
The American Traders folks always bring a well-stocked booth that shines with the beauty of clear cedar. The swing (seen in the middle-bottom of the picture) is always occupied.
The speakers at Canoecopia vary their topics, but the quality is consistently amazing. The things I learn when I'm snooping around just for a few minutes is totally amazing. Here a group waits for Rolf and Debra Kraiker's presentation on backcountry nutrition.
Sit-on-top kayaks create a considerable number of smiley faces. These two young ladies sat there for a long long time. I don't know what they were thinking, but I think they were good thoughts.
Many of the former shop staff come back for a sort of Canoecopia Homecoming. Here's ex-staffer Eric Raffini (left) showing an anonymous customer (right) the virtues of Nigel Dennis Kayak's recessed deck fittings.
The amount of information at Canoecopia can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. Here a couple looks over the catalogs and various other forms of propaganda from the manufacturers.
Saturday, about 12:00 noon. The lines, though they looked long, moved surprisingly fast (about 25 minutes was the longest wait for accessories). The boat line wasn't so fast, but we're gonna fix that next year - more machines, better signage (up high where you can see it.) Page is right under the white word that says Page. Wave to Mom, Page
Darren listens to Fred Hartray tell stories (although we forget about what) while Landis Arnold, President of Prijon USA listens with amusement. Darren looks fried but it's Sunday and he's on his 80th hour for that week
|Once again we filled the hall with hundreds of boats from manufacturers all over the world. Here's a good shot of Valley and NDK, with Winde Sports and Slick Rydr Trailers in the background. Notice the lack of people in the aisles. This is Friday, 4:05 PM, long before the carnage began.