This weekend, the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show kicks off several weekends of outdoor recreation shows around Alaska, including next weekend's Great Alaska Sportsman Show at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. For someone who loves to spend time in his raft, camping and fishing, these shows can be downright torturous.

Why, you ask? Mat-Su Outdoorsman ShowBecause every booth, including ours, is filled with great imagery of people fishing, vendors are selling the latest camping gadgets or showing off the latest fishing rods, and summer gets firmly planted in your mind. Then, you leave the show and head to the car when its 32 degrees and snow is on the ground, and you realize that you have a few more months to wait. March and April can feel like the longest months, because it seems like summer should be here - it's staying light until "normal" times and you can genuinely feel the sun warming.

Other than that, though, we love the outdoors shows because it gives us another reminder of why we love to live in Alaska, and why we love showing it off to our visitors. There are fantastic wilderness lodges, amazing fishing opportunities, hiking trails criss-crossing the entire Mat-Su region - and that's just for starters. It's also a great place to take advantage of show specials on some of the new gear you'll need for the summer.

Take the first steps toward summer this weekend - the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show will get you excited about digging out the fishing rod, unpacking your tent, and dusting off your hiking boots. It runs noon-7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, at the Menard Center in Wasilla, off Church Road. For more details, check out the show's Web site at We'll see you there!