BETHEL – The 37th annual New England Trappers Weekend will be held Aug. 22-24 at the home of Neil Olson.

Olson said he started it in 1977 after he realized there was a lack of quality trapping events in the area.

I was always interested in the sport, and after attending a few different shows, I realized that I didn’t like the way they were doing it,” Olson said Wednesday afternoon, “so I decided to start my own.”

He said the first year  was “like the Woodstock of trapper events,” with people from “all kinds of different states” learning new methods. Though he has added some new elements, he said that it has remained nearly the same since 1977.

It’s the same old format that it’s always been,” Olson laughed. “I’ve always said, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”

The gathering will feature more than a dozen presentations and demonstrations on trapping methods, including those for mink, muskrat, fox and certain water animals.

Many of the people leading the presentations and demos are locals, Olson said.

Leading a presentation during Trappers Weekend is a pretty prestigious thing in the sport,” Olson said. “A lot of the people who present are people I know, but I don’t go out and try to find people to lead a demo. In some ways, they find me.”

A new addition is a contest to evaluate who can set up the best campsite. It will be judged on most primitive, most American, cleanest and most original.

For the second year, there will be a beard contest, which Olson said is judged by a panel of “good looking women.” They will grade the beards on length, cleanliness and most original.

Trappers are a pretty beard-y group as it is,” Olson said. “It’s always a riot to watch the women go up to the guys and feel their beards as they try to figure out whose is the best.”

Olson said that while the men and women are visiting the demos, children can participate in either a scavenger hunt, coin scramble or coyote calling contest at 9 a.m. Saturday and a fishing contest at 3:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 for an adult and $5 per night of camping.

For more information on the Trappers Weekend, call Olson at 875-5765, or check out their flier on the Bethel Maine website.

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