CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Families who love to spend time together outdoors won't want to miss the 37th annual Eastern Iowa Sportshow, organizers say.

Businesses specializing in fun under the sun will fill the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls for three days starting Friday. Recreational vehicles, boats, vacation destinations and a host of other outdoor-related products and services will be on display.

"Some call it a camper show ... but it's really a big family event," said John Bunge, president of Iowa Show Productions of Waterloo.

Besides hunting and fishing seminars, Bunge scheduled plenty of family entertainment. The Extreme Stunt Dog Show will dazzle showgoers in the McLeod Center, which also will house a live wildlife exhibit featuring bears, cougars and a wolf. Other activities include rainbow trout fishing.

The show stoppers this year, though, may be on wheels or float. As the economy strengthens, Bunge has noticed at similar shows held locally and statewide people are ready to invest in outdoor fun again.

"At the January show (Iowa Boat and RV Show in the UNI-Dome), I got a feeling the start of the year was a lot more active than last year," Bunge said. "When the economy was down, recreation wasn't a priority. There's a lot of pent up demand."

Area RV and boat dealers said sales rebounded dramatically last year compared with the dark days of the 2009 recession. Exhibiters at this week's show hope the 15,000 people that usually attend are still in the spending mood.

Dan Jasper, owner of Jasper's RV near Hazleton, said he sold 141 units last year, up 31 from 2010. He's optimistic the show will kick off an even better year.

Jasper plans to bring four travel trailers and one fifth-wheel to show. He spends about $4,500 for advertising space, which he said is money well spent.

"We get our name out and get to showcase our products. It's very advantageous for us," said Jasper, who typically records three to 10 sales from the show.

Tricia Arends, co-owner of Heartland Marine near Oran, said boat sales bounced back nicely last year as well. Heartland will show off four, possibly five pontoon and fishing rigs at the show.

"We had good sales at the January show. (The future) is looking good," Arends said. "A lot of people decided after the stock market crashed several years ago that they can't take (money) with them. Might as well do something fun."

Ag business reporter for the Courier

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