The Rise of Hobby Sports and Activities: Uniting Enthusiasts and Creating New Connections

By Tanya Manus Hobbies are not just pastimes; they are booming movements that bring people together. As the world emerges from the pandemic lockdown, individuals have picked up new hobbies or rekindled their love for...

By Tanya Manus

A four-legged competitor heads through a tunnel at the Purina Farms.

Hobbies are not just pastimes; they are booming movements that bring people together. As the world emerges from the pandemic lockdown, individuals have picked up new hobbies or rekindled their love for old interests. Now, enthusiasts are gathering to share their passions and create new connections. These growing gatherings offer event planners the opportunity to design unique experiences and incorporate hobby-based outings into their agendas. This allows like-minded attendees to connect, bond, and immerse themselves in their chosen hobbies. From brewing beer to fishing, dog shows to horse riding, people are pursuing their interests with unwavering dedication.

Brewing Up a Storm

One popular hobby that has gained immense traction is homebrewing. With over 2,100 registered homebrew clubs in the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), the love for crafting homemade beers, meads, and ciders has reached new heights. The AHA organizes events like the annual Homebrew Con and the National Homebrew Competition, which received a staggering 4,335 entries from 1,708 homebrewers across 50 states, Washington D.C., and 13 countries in 2023.

Homebrewing clubs, such as Auburn Brew Club in Alabama, are tapping into the popularity of craft beer. Many clubs host competitions, and there are lots of beer festivals throughout the South.

Drew Kostic, head brewer and general manager at New Realm Brewing Company, expresses his passion for this "kooky little club of people who love making their beer." According to Kostic, attending a homebrewing meeting can be an enriching experience, as members welcome newcomers and foster an environment of learning and growth.

Homebrew clubs provide opportunities for amateur brewers to connect, learn, and exchange recipes and tips. Additionally, they act as test markets where members analyze and critique each other's creations. For aspiring brewers, institutions like Auburn University's Horst Schulze School of Hospitality Management offer graduate certificates and master's degrees in brewing science and operations.

Gone Fishin'

The South has some of the best fishing spots in the world. South Florida Sport Fishermen of Dade County in Florida is one of thousands of amateur angler clubs.

For many, fishing is more than just a hobby; it's a way of life. In the 21st century, fishing has evolved into a hi-tech, competitive sport. However, the simple joy of casting a line in nature has kept this activity popular for generations. Professional fishing tournaments, such as the Bassmaster Elite Series and the Bassmaster Classic, attract thousands of spectators and provide a platform for fishing enthusiasts to learn from the pros.

James Hall, editor-in-chief of Bassmaster magazine, highlights the sport's growth and the use of technology to engage audiences. With TV coverage and livestreams, spectators can witness fishing techniques in real-time and apply them to their own fishing adventures. The appeal of fishing extends beyond the competition itself; it offers a peaceful escape from the daily stresses of life, allowing individuals to reconnect with nature and find solace in silence.

To the Dogs

A canine competitor leaps over a hurdle during an event at Purina Farms.

Dogs hold a special place in the hearts of many, with over 65 million households in the United States welcoming these furry companions. Dog shows, which combine competition, showmanship, entertainment, and education, have become a popular hobby for dog fanciers. The American Kennel Club sanctions over 22,000 events each year, providing plenty of opportunities for dog enthusiasts to showcase their pets.

Purina Farms in Missouri stands out as an excellent venue for hosting dog shows and canine sporting events. With six outdoor fields and an 84,000-square-foot indoor facility, it offers a range of activities such as agility trials, obedience events, herding trials, and the highly acclaimed Purina Incredible Dog Challenge. One of the fastest-growing events is the Fast CAT, a 100-yard dog dash that tests speed and agility.

Horse Play

The 2023 United States Pony Clubs Championships East took place at Tryon International in Mill Spring, N.C.

Horse riding has captivated the hearts of equine enthusiasts for generations. Groups of horse lovers gather in various locations, such as Marion County in Florida and the horse cities of Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky, to explore working horse farms, witness training sessions, meet champion horses, and enjoy horse shows. These horse-related attractions offer venues for rent, providing a unique experience for attendees.

Marion County, known as the "Horse Capital of the World," boasts a rich equestrian heritage with over 35,000 Thoroughbreds calling the area home. The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington offers an immersive equine experience, featuring the Parade of Breeds, informative exhibits, and stunning performances. Meanwhile, Louisville hosts the World's Championship Horse Show, which crowns champions in various equestrian disciplines.

Embracing Hobbies and Creating Connections

A diverse group of hobbyists coming together.

The rise of hobby sports and activities has given birth to vibrant communities driven by shared passions. These gatherings not only allow individuals to pursue their interests but also foster meaningful connections and friendship. Whether it's brewing beer, fishing, showcasing dogs, or horse riding, these hobbies enable people to immerse themselves in fulfilling experiences.

As event planners, incorporating hobby-based outings into meeting agendas can create an engaging and memorable experience for attendees. By providing opportunities for like-minded individuals to connect and share their expertise, planners can create a sense of camaraderie and forge lifelong connections.

So, what are you waiting for? Embrace your hobbies, explore new territories, and connect with individuals who share your passions. After all, life is all about the experiences we create and the connections we make along the way.