Buckmasters Expo back in Montgomery

Published 10:47 am Monday, August 11, 2008

After a two-year hiatus, the Buckmasters Expo is back home in Montgomery, set for a three-day run Aug. 15-17 at the new Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center.

“We’re excited about being back home in a brand new facility – a five-star facility with the Renaissance Hotel,” Buckmasters founder and CEO Jackie Bushman said. “Dr. (David) Bronner has done it again, and it’s extremely first class.

“It will be completely different from the Buckmasters Expo at the old convention center. We’ve got more floor space in the main hall and we’re excited about that. The main difference is that we had Young Bucks outside, but there’s a parking deck there now, so we’re going to have Young Bucks inside this year.”

When construction on the hotel and renovation of the convention center began, Buckmasters and city officials had hoped to keep the expo in Montgomery. But it quickly became obvious that the project wouldn’t allow it, and Buckmasters took the expo to Greensboro, N.C., during the construction period.

“We were basically in touch with the folks in Montgomery right before we left,” Bushman said. “The deal was they were trying to do construction around us, to try to keep in Montgomery. But the construction got so complicated from parking decks to hotels that we all agreed that we should wait to get it built and have it ready before we brought it back.

“Once they said they would have it done, we said we’d be back in 2008. They got it finished and had their first event in February.”

Bushman said there has been a definite buzz in the outdoors community about the expo and said the exhibitor space of 300 booths has been completely sold out.

“The thing I’m most excited about, though, is we got enough help from State Tourism (Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel), the mayor (Bobby N. Bright) and local sponsors so we don’t have to charge at the door,” Bushman said. “That’s a formula that worked very well for us in the past. A can of food for the food bank will serve as your ticket. Hopefully people will bring more than one can. The food bank is in desperate need of canned meat. They are only getting 10-15 percent of their needs for meat donated. I think we provided enough food to meet a portion of the needs for 180,000-200,000 meals the last time we were here.”