HAMMOND | Camo was the clothing pattern of choice Saturday at the Jean Shepherd Community Center, where hundreds of people gathered for the annual Hammond Outdoor Sports Show.
More than 80 vendors filled 127 booths with everything from fishing poles and lures to boats, taxidermy services, duck and goose calls, charter services, nonprofit organizations, retail stores and governmental entities.
Mark Narantic founded the show 29 years ago and has organized every annual event since.
"It's grown tenfold," Narantic said.
The sports show originated at the Hammond Civic Center and when it outgrew that space in 2004, moved to the Shepherd Community Center.
Narantic said he is happy to see how much the event has grown, but stressed it is, "not so much for or about us. It's about the vendors."
Tim Ferguson, of Griffith, is a member of the Griffith Izaak Walton League, Cedar Lake Fish and Game Club and the Lake County Fish and Game Protective Association. Ferguson, who teaches hunters education courses, said he has attended the show for the past six years.
"It's fun," Ferguson said. "You come here, brush up on new laws, get information from other groups, see how we can partner together. It's a good time."
Many attended the event as families, with kids climbing and rappelling down a towering wall, fishing in the trout pond and participating in minnow races.
Randy Thomas, of Griffith, watched as his son Peyton, 8, fished in the trout pond. The father-son pair said they come to the event every year.
"We go fishing together a lot," Randy Thomas said. "We go year-round but we haven't been able to ice fish the last two years because it never got cold enough."
His young son said the outdoor show and time spent on the lake are about more than catching a big fish.
"I like to spend time with my Dad and have fun with him," Peyton said.