One of Cincinnati’s most beloved traditions began with
one man’s passion for hunting and fishing.
In the early 1950s, Robert S. “Bob” Hart, Jr., a college-educated General Electric employee, became a freelance writer about his favorite subject. His hunting and fishing articles appeared in publications such as Southern Outdoors Magazine, Outdoor Life and Field & Stream.
During his journalistic excursions, Bob met the Cincinnati Enquirer’s then-outdoors columnist Dave Roberts. The two co-authored a book about regional fishing opportunities, and in the process, they formed friendships with other outdoor writers from around the region and country.
Meanwhile, as Bob traveled the nation writing his stories, he noticed several boat and sportsmen shows that had popped up around the United States since the end of World War II. At that time, Cincinnati did not have a sportsmen show of its own. Bob approached his uncle, Hobe Hart, who produced small festivals around the Midwest, and suggested that they start a show in Cincinnati. Using Bob’s outdoor, boating and travel industry contacts and Hobe’s knowledge of the festival business, they opened the Ohio Valley All-Sports Show at the Cincinnati Gardens in 1957.
With attendance in the thousands, the show was an immediate success, and it became an annual event. In 1959, Hobe left the company, but Bob stayed on with his wife, Eunice. With Bob’s sales and marketing skills and Eunice’s flair for accounting and office management, the team continued to manage the wildly successful business. The show eventually moved from the Cincinnati Gardens to the Cincinnati Convention Center in 1967. After a few name changes, the show ultimately became the Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show.
Today, Hart Productions manages eight annual consumer trade shows, including the Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show®; Cincinnati Golf Show®; Cincinnati Hunting & Fishing Show®; Cincinnati Auto Expo; Cincinnati Home & Garden Show®; The Garden Market℠; Greater Cincinnati Kitchen, Bath & Remodeling Show℠; Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market℠; and Cincy Specialty Food & Treats Show℠. Local, regional, national and international vendors purchase exhibit space and sell their products and services directly to consumers.
Bob’s son, Robert S. “Chip” Hart III, is the president and CEO of Hart Productions and runs the company with his wife, Vicki, CFO and COO.