January 2022. We made it. We’re here and got through another year of challenges. I’m sitting in the lobby of a Marriot in Richmond, Virginia. It’s about 5am. I flew in yesterday evening. Today is “set-up” day for the Virginia Fly Fishing and Wine Festival taking place this weekend on Saturday, January 15th and Sunday the 16th. This will be Zen Tenkara’s first time participating in the event, and we are hoping for an excellent show.
As a small company, an excellent show equates to making enough sales during the event to cover all expenses which include flights, hotel rooms, meals, staff wages and of course, the costs directly associated with the show such as booth space, carpet and tables. These add up quickly and become expensive for business owners. Traveling to a new event is always a gamble. On the upside, meeting anglers and fly fishermen and women in new places is always exciting. The opportunity to share information and teach is something I personally derive great satisfaction from. And helping to spread the method of tenkara fly fishing is just plain fun.
The big question is, particularly this year, will people come? Covid was the cause of expo and show cancelations in 2020 and 2021. The VA Fly Fishing and Wine Festival will be the first large gathering, expo-type of event for the fly fishing community in two years. Guides, outfitters, manufacturers and people in the industry have missed the comradery felt at these events and have yearned to come collectively together. Two weeks later on January 28th through the 30th The Fly Fishing Show will take place in Edison, New Jersey. Two weeks after that, on February 11th through the 13th, the show will move to Denver, Colorado. The question remains, will anglers feel safe to attend these events?
Each state has its own Covid safety protocols for large gatherings. They range from distancing, mask and vaccine requirements, to essentially nothing at all. With the Omnicron variant surging forward and Covid cases on the rise, how will people, who are tired of being isolated and restricted, respond? Only time will tell.
Today we set up for the show. Tomorrow at 9am the doors open. There will be exhibitors such as Zen Tenkara, seminars, classes and demonstrations offered. I’ll be on the casting ponds providing demos both Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm and 3:00pm. Should I wear a mask? If I do, will people be able to hear me? Will I offend others if I don’t wear one? I am hosting a trip to Patagonia Feb 3rd. I am required to do a PCR test to enter Argentina. Although I’ve been vaccinated and boostered and I l’m not worried about getting “sick”, I am concerned that I could be exposed to Covid resulting in a positive PCR test – and in me not being able to travel to Argentina and go on my own hosted trip. Navigating these times are difficult. Knowing what to do and how to do it, is tough.
These are the things that I’m thinking about this morning as I sip my coffee and get excited for the day to begin and the opportunity to gather with fly anglers from all over – to talk fishing, teach tenkara and share stories of adventures and fish landed and lost.