Drone video footage of Bass Pro World’s Fishing Fair. (Video by Bruce Stidham/STIDZ Media)

Their smiles lit up an otherwise gloomy March morning. As NASCAR driver Austin Dillon performed a burnout in front of Bass Pro Shops, the Moore boys could barely believe their luck.

Their pre-planned trip to the Ozarks just happened to coincide with the World’s Fishing Fair, which runs through April 3.

“It was a lucky coincidence,” said Chad Moore, from Grand Rapids, Michigan. “We were already planning on coming here, but we didn’t know the fishing fair was happening. It was a bonus. It’s been awesome fun. We’re having a blast.”

Chad and sons Tyler, 12, and Hunter, 9, stuck around after the burnout and even managed to get autographs from Dillon, winner of the 2018 Daytona 500 and driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.

“I’m excited and very happy,” Tyler said.

“My heart’s pounding,” added Hunter.

NASCAR driver Austin Dillon’s car kicks up dust as he performs a burnout at the World’s Fishing Fair March 31 at Bass Pro Shops. The fair — which features sales, seminars, concerts and more — continues through April 3. (Photo by Jeff Kessinger)

It was a similar story across the Bass Pro Shops campus, as crowds turned out despite rain and snow to shop sales, attend seminars and meet NASCAR drivers as well as Dillon’s grandfather, former driver and longtime team owner Richard Childress.

“Honestly, anywhere you go, the energy is infectious throughout this whole fair,” said Janet Glaser, a Bass Pro Shops spokesperson. “It’s been so fun to see everyone from all walks of life coming to the World’s Fishing Fair. I ran into someone from Florida the other day. There are people from Ohio, even Canada, so we’re excited to see everyone coming to the Ozarks to experience this and it’s been a lot of fun. And with the weather brightening up over the weekend we’re looking for even more traffic and it’s going to be awesome this weekend.”

The World’s Fishing Fair celebrates the 50th anniversary of Bass Pro Shops, which started and is based in Springfield. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales for the event will be donated to conservation charities. It’s a cause close to Dillon’s heart.

“I have a 2-year-old son and I love getting outdoors with him,” Dillon said. “I had him in the creek playing the other day. Just knowing the sustainability for the future is great with people like Johnny Morris and my grandfather putting a lot into conservation, any time I can help out in that same process, I want to do that. I want all the young people to experience what I was able to, and that’s getting in the outdoors with my family and my grandfather.”

Images from the World Fishing Fair at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield on March 31, 2022. (Photo by Bruce Stidham)

Childress said it was “special” for him to be there for Morris.

“He’s our modern-day Theodore Roosevelt,” Childress said. “(Roosevelt) was the greatest conservationist and Johnny Morris today is the greatest conservationist. I’ve been with him on several conservation events, and he does so much for so many.”

Concerts for Conservation, a series of booked shows for the event, highlight the weekend for the World’s Fishing Fair. Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Chris Janson, John Anderson and Lindsay Ell perform Friday. Hank Williams Jr. will play a sold-out show Saturday. Both concerts start at 8 p.m. at JQH Arena.

Tickets to the Wonders of Wildlife National Fish & Wildlife Museum are discounted this weekend, providing even more opportunities for family fun. The Moore’s, like a lot of guests, were taking full advantage of that.

“So far we’ve been to the aquarium and the museum,” Chad said. “And we’ve been down to Dogwood and Table Rock and all of that. We’re pretty much done now and ready to head home. We’re looking around right now, then we’re going to go get the sales. We’ve got to see everything first.”

Childress and Dillon weren’t about to miss out on the sales, either.

Images from the World Fishing Fair at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield on March 31, 2022. (Photo by Bruce Stidham)

“We’ve been looking at fishing gear and (Childress) has already bought six chairs for his turkey blinds and got a couple of decoys,” Dillon said.

Glaser and the Bass Pro Shops are expecting big crowds taking advantage of the nice weather this weekend, which will keep them busy. She didn’t seem to mind.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to be part of the event,” Glaser said. “To see what Johnny Morris has put together here in the Ozarks, I’m just so thankful and proud to be a part of it and see this vision come to life. I know it was very important to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bass Pro Shops and having people walk around with smiles on their faces enjoying it has just been a really awesome experience.”

World’s Fishing Fair Tickets

Early Bird tickets: Children (ages 9-16) $5, Adults $10, Children 8 and under are free

Regular tickets: Children $8, Adults $20

Two-day passes: Children $10, Adults $25

Three-day passes: Children $12, Adults $30For more information, visit the event’s official website.

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DRONE SHOTS: World’s Fishing Fair at Bass Pro

The Springfield Daily Citizen got views in the air and on the ground of Bass Pro’s massive event, the World’s Fishing Fair. The sales, concerts and activities extend through this weekend, ending April 3. Drone video footage (Video by Bruce Stidham/STIDZ Media) Drone photos (Photos by Bruce Stidham/STIDZ Media)

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger