PARKERSBURG — Local churches teamed to combine a love of the outdoors and the sharing of the gospel Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Valley Sportsman’s Expo.
Vendors were invited to set up for free displaying a variety of products and services related to hunting, fishing and more.
“Really, anything outdoors is part of it,” said Troy Derenberger, president of the Mid-Ohio Valley Sportsman’s Expo and pastor of Grace Gospel Church.
The event was started seven years ago by Bethel Baptist Church as a way to reach out to the hunter and outdoor enthusiast community. As they looked to expand, Grace Gospel and Tri-City Baptist in Parkersburg joined in, Derenberger said.
Fred Bennett, an avid fisherman, hunter, writer and life member of the Christian Bowhunters of America, was the guest speaker at the first event and returned for this year’s at the Elite Sports Center in Parkersburg.
“I was really pumped when he asked me if I’d come back and speak again,” said Bennett, who was born in Clarksburg and lives in Tennessee.
Bennett said he likes to speak to men about “who Jesus was and who he expects us to be,” which includes being respectful to others.
“The balance is man stuff without the macho stuff,” he said.
Mineral Wells resident Jim Blevins said he didn’t realize there was a religious component to the event until he heard Bennett speaking.
“I like what that guy’s a-saying,” he said.
Blevins was checking in at the Ritchie’s Custom Taxidermy booth. Owner Jeff Ritchie said he enjoys coming to the expo to see people he knows and maybe pick up some new business.
“It’s in my community,” he said. “Hunting season’s right around the corner.”
Members of the Parkersburg chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing were on hand to demonstrate tying fly fishing lures.
Dwayne Tuley of Vienna said the organization teaches veterans how to tie flies and cast and organizes fishing outings to provide camaraderie and a chance to get away from the stresses of day-to-day life. It’s especially beneficial for those dealing with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.
More information about the group is available on its Facebook page.
Four members of the Wood County Sharpshooters shooting sports team were selling recycled lead fishing sinkers at a table as part of a conservation project through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
“We had all the lead pellets (from shooting) and since sinkers are made of lead, my dad kind of had the idea of what if we make sinkers?” said 15-year-old Samantha Thompson.
They plan to find a cause to which to donate the money they raise, she said. And their project could make their shooting sports team eligible for a cash prize for supplies, said Washington resident J.R. Dixon, whose son and daughter, Cooley and Callie, are part of the effort, along with Morgan Wicker.