It’s 1966. The Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup, Caesars Palace opens in Las Vegas, The Beatles end their U.S. concert tour in San Francisco (which is their last live performance), Canadian figure skater Kurt Browning is born on June 18, Star Trek debuts on NBC-TV, the Canada Pension Plan is introduced and mini skirts are the fashion trend of the year.
Here in the Wheat City, the Brandon Sportsman’s Show was held for the first time! The event, which today is known as the Brandon Home & Leisure Show (BH&L Show), began as a modest trade show in less than 10,000 square feet.
Clair Murray of Murray Chev Olds was the founder of the event, but after two years, Glen Lawson of Frank Lawson & Sons came on board and added boats and marinerelated products.
“Fifty years, for any type of business, is a benchmark that is not a frivolous existence. A lot of our past and longtime exhibitors are really keen on celebrating the 50th anniversary with us this year. People realize the value of it and they are saying, ‘we have to be in it because it’s the 50th’. Everyone’s really excited about this year’s event,” said Dave Melcosky, Manager of the Brandon Home and Leisure Show.
Manse Binkley, Bill Lawson, Bob Lawson, Don Main and Doug Murray took over the BH&L Show in 1979. Eventually, brothers and business partners Don and Ron Kille joined Don Main and Doug Murray as owners and the four businessmen managed the show for a number of years. Today, it is owned by the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba.
To recognize Clair Murray for his innovation and willingness to take a risk on this new venture, the Murray family will be presented with an award in his honour during this year’s event.
We’re grateful to everyone who played a role in building the show over the years, but it was Clair Murray who really took a chance and tried something new. I’m not sure that even he would have imagined that it would still be running 50 years later,” said Dave.
The BH&L Show has grown 10 times its original size in its 50 years of existence, it now uses 100,000 square feet of space in the Keystone Centre and attracts close to 11,000 visitors over the course of the three-day event. Along with the size, the variety of exhibitors has changed as well.
In addition to cars, boats and recreational vehicles, today at the BH&L Show you’ll find products and services for doit- yourself home repair, decorating and furnishing, exterior improvements, patios, hot tubs, home entertainment and landscaping. You’ll also see the latest in lawn and garden equipment, travel trailers, water crafts, and a wide selection of products for your favourite hobby or sport.
While Dave has been the force in expanding and building on the event in the last seven years in his role as show manager, his history with the BH&L Show actually dates back to the era when bell-bottoms, disco and The Village People were popular.
“When we started Stream ’n Wood back in the mid- 70s it was a natural at that point to be part of the show, because it was called the Brandon Sportsman Show and was strictly recreational equipment. Of course, Stream ’n Wood has always carried canoes, kayaks and such and it was a good fit,” said Dave.
“Ironically, the year we were first involved was 1977 and the event was held in the Convention Hall which is just 10,000 square feet. Today, we’re just shy of 100,000 square feet, the growth of the show over the years has been quite amazing.”
As an added highlight for the 50th anniversary celebration, the Showcase Stage is being reintroduced where exhibitors will have the opportunity to showcase their products and services to visitors in attendance. There will be an excellent variety of presentations on everything from interior design to landscaping and cabinetry.
“The Home Show is an interactive show, I like to describe it as one of the biggest box stores in Manitoba. People are coming in to look at products and to find service providers. The opportunity for the exhibitors is tremendous – selling is the name of the game, making contacts is the name of the game; it’s about building a network of potential customers. For those attending the event, it’s a fantastic opportunity to see what the latest trends and innovations are.”
Known for having everything anyone would ever want to know about your current or future home and now the Brandon Home and Leisure Show partnering with the Canadian Cancer Society to take on cancer.
Home Show general manager Dave Melcosky said in addition to increasing awareness about the dangers of radon gas, the show’s timing creates a wonderful opportunity to community-build and increase Brandon’s engagement in the cancer fight. He said the Show has designated the Canadian Cancer Society its official charity of choice.
“Due to the fact that April is Daffodil Month across Canada and the Show is in April or late March, it was a natural partnership,” Melcosky said. Karrie Smyth, manager of the provincial Daffodil Campaign praised Melcosky and the Home Show for showing leadership and commitment to helping Manitoba cancer patients and their families.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is the largest national charitable funder of cancer research in Canada. Thanks to our generous donors and our rigorous, gold-standard peer-review process, we are funding hundreds of researchers in universities, hospitals and research centres across Canada. The Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Together we are discovering new ways to change cancer forever. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934). Make your gift today at cancer.ca.