CNY Sportsman Show 2023 returned to Oneida
ONEIDA — The 2023 CNY Sportsman Show was a great success as people from all over flocked to the Kallet Civic Center to peruse the vendors, listen to the speakers, and meet this year's Sportsman of the Year.
Organizer Teri Maciag said even though it was a cold morning on Saturday and things got off to a slow start, the turnout from the community was great. "People are excited to be back, and that's what they've been telling us," she said. "We're already hearing people talk and ask about next year or ask about being a vendor."
At every Sportsman Show, there's someone honored as Sportsman of the Year for their unwavering commitment to the great outdoors. This year was a first, and the Sportsman of the Year judges chose two winners: Environmental Conservation Officers Ricardo Grisolini and Steve Lakeman.
While working in Region 6, Grisolini approached the Federated Sportsmen Clubs of Oneida County Inc. about having a Youth Turkey and Goose Hunts in Oneida County with their support. Grisolini, along with members of the Federation and other sportsmen and women, started meeting in January 2011 to plan for the events. When ECO Grisolini transferred to Region 7 in Madison County in 2017, he asked if he could continue to work with the Federation on these programs and bring sportsmen and women from his area in to work with the Federation.
"Grisolini has worked very hard over the years to help secure property all over Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison County that would be used for hunting during the Youth Turkey and Goose hunting weekends," Master of Ceremonies Leo Maloney said. "Many of the property owners that ECO Grisolini has approached have jumped at the chance to be able to support these programs. Some landowners have even invited the youth hunters to come back to hunt anytime they would like."
With a focus on safety and a want to teach anyone how to hunt, Grisolini has worked to show the enjoyment of the great outdoors and keep the hunting heritage alive.
Lakeman approached the Federation in 2009 about having a goose hunt in Oneida County with their support and worked over the year to secure property all over Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison County that would be used for hunting during the September Goose hunts.
"Many of the property owners have jumped at the chance to be able to support these programs," Maloney said. "Some have even invited the youth hunters to come back to hunt anytime."
Each year since the start of the program, Lakeman actively seeks out Hunter Mentors to assist each year. He has recruited from within the Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Conservation Office and also recruited from hunters they have met in the field that enjoy goose hunting.
"They have averaged around 16 hunters each year," Maloney said. "Lakemen has also actively encouraged women to participate in this hunt as well. Lakemen has worked hard to show our youth and women the enjoyment of the great outdoors. He shows a great concern for our hunting heritage and is trying to keep it alive for future generations."
Both were presented with a plaque, declaring them Sportsman of the Year.
But the final award went to the show's master of ceremonies, much to his surprise.
Maloney is an outdoor writer with numerous publications, including New York Fishermen, Great Lakes Fisherman, the Oneida Dispatch, and the Empire Outdoor Journal. Since its inception, Maloney has helped with the CNY Sportsman Show.
This year, he was presented with the Silver Service Award for his many years of significant service to not just the Sportsman Show but to the great outdoors.
Though gone from people's hearts for a time, the CNY Sportsman Show made a comeback and will be around for years to come. "The Sportsman Show is here to stay," Maciag said.
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