If you have been to either of the first two NW Dive Expo’s you know it is a phenomenal and world class dive event. But Rick Stratton and his great team at the Dive News Network on not resting on their laurels. This year the show is not only bigger and more diverse, there is treasure chest of prizes big enough to make Mel Fisher want to mount an expedition to Tacoma. The total cache of prizes, donated by sponsors and to be awarded this year is topping $125,000. One vendor, IST Sports, a Taiwan based scuba equipment company, donated over $10,000 alone in equipment for prizes.
The exhibitor count is over 280 which is 50 more than last year. One of the unique aspects of the NW Dive Expo is that it includes a more diverse set of vendors than other consumer scuba shows. They have over 30 local retailers coming this year. The largest consumer dive show, Beneath the Sea, held in New Jersey, had only 10 local retailers. This gives divers a chance to both learn about equipment from the manufactures and check for pricing and specials from the local dealers. There is also an increase in travel and resort vendors, many with free trip contests. Because the show has gained stature many of the resort owners are personally attending their booths this year.
The seminars are also more broad ranging. Included are two workshops by well known master photography instructor Cathy Church, owner of the Cathy Church underwater photo school on Grand Cayman.
Northwest dive legends will be recognized in two different award ceremonies. The Giant Stride Award honors a local diver that has advanced diving in the Puget Sound area and the Local Legend award, which is lifetime achievement award. The Giant Stride award recipient is picked by the previous winners. Last year it was awarded to Bruce Higgins, founder and tireless maintainer of the Edmonds Underwater Park.
Other show features include the Treasure Hunt which is on Sunday this year and events focused on bringing new divers and young divers into scuba.
Scuba Gadget will be covering the show again this year with live Tweets from the show floor and in depth stories to follow. But don’t miss this show. Even if we weren’t covering it and lived further away we would still attend. This show is worth the voyage. At all takes place May 21-23, 2010 at the Tacoma Convention Center. Full information can be found at http://www.divenewsnetwork.com/expo/.