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Boats and bucks will be the top draws in central Arkansas this month when the Marine Expo and the Big Buck Classic come to Little Rock.

Anglers and recreational boaters who are in the market for a new rig may inspect all kinds of boats Jan. 19-21 at the 36th annual Arkansas Marine Expo at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock.

"If it floats, it's going to be in the show," said Ken Griffey, chief promoter for the expo. He said there will be no better time this year to buy than now.

"It's the first show of the year, and dealers are eager to move some inventory," Griffey said. "Plus, you'll have all of the state's major dealers right there under one roof, so they'll be very competitive to make the best deals."

Demand will increase later in the year when warmer weather spurs people to think about buying a new boat, so early buyers will get the best prices of the year.

"They'll even keep it, shrink-wrap it, store it and deliver it in April when you're ready to hit the water."

Lenders will also be on hand so that buyers can secure financing on the spot. Interest rates are expected to rise in the near future, so this is a good time to lock into a good rate, Griffey said.

The last eight years have been tough on the boating industry, Griffey said, because the tight economy has dried up disposable income for many consumers. With the economy on the mend, and with lower fuel prices expected to last through and beyond summer, Griffey said the boating industry is rejuvenated.

Griffey said that savvy buyers visit the expo on Friday because that's the day with the lightest traffic. Dealer representatives have more time to visit with prospective buyers and explain the products in greater detail. They do their homework on site, decide which boat to buy, then return later to make the deal.

"Your ticket is good for the entire expo," Griffey said.

Don't leave anything to chance, Griffey added. He said buyers should make sure a trailer is part of their deal.

"People assume a boat comes with a trailer, but that's not necessarily the case," Griffey said. "Same with boat covers. You might have to negotiate options like that."

As always, about half a dozen tackle dealers will be on hand with a dazzling assortment of fishing tackle available at discount prices. During the expo, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette also will give away a Tracker Pro 160 bass boat with a trailer and Mercury outboard motor.

Show hours will be 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission for adults will be $6. Children age 12 and under get in free. For information, call Ken or Kelly Griffey (501) 765-1423 or visit dgattractions.com.

Big Buck Classic

Celebrate the 2017-18 deer season with other proud hunters Jan. 26-28 at the the 28th annual Arkansas Big Buck Classic.

One of the South's premier hunting extravaganzas, the Big Buck Classic will celebrate our latest deer season by bringing the biggest racks taken this year together under one roof. By show's end, the vaunted Wall of Antlers will bristle with the biggest whitetailed deer racks taken in the state. It demonstrates how good the quality of our bucks really is. It always draws a huge crowd, and it's a great place to swap deer hunting stories.

The Big Buck Classic also is a great place to buy stuff. Vendors selling items from custom turkey calls, duck and goose calls, handcrafted knives and even guided hunts pack the Hall of Industry at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds in Little Rock. You can re-equip yourself for the 2018-19 deer season in one spot.

As always, Joe Martin's Snakes of Texas exhibit will be in Barton Coliseum, featuring dozens of live rattlesnakes loose within an enclosure.

For the third consecutive year, the Big Buck Classic and Remington Arms will give away 25 guns during the show until there are 25 confirmed winners. There also will be a $10,000 cash door prize.

The show will climax on Jan. 28, when the winner is crowned. That fortunate hunter will win a Can-Am Defender HD5 all-terrain vehicle from Bradford Marine & ATV.

Show hours will be 1-9 p.m. Jan. 26, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Jan. 27, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 28.

Admission for adults will be $12, and $5 for children ages 5-12. Admission is free for children under age 5. The admission price includes parking.

For more information, go to bigbuckclassic.com.

Sports on 01/11/2018

Print Headline: Boats and bucks highlight shows

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