A reminder of what happened in 2013: The event was the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, known to many people simply as the “Harrisburg Show”, that had run …
A reminder of what happened in 2013: The event was the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, known to many people simply as the “Harrisburg Show”, that had run continuously since the 1950’s, and regularly attracted hundreds of thousands of outdoor-loving people to eastern Pennsylvania each February to book hunting and fishing trips worldwide, and to view and purchase firearms and outdoor related gear and equipment.
In January of 2013, just three weeks before this annual Outdoor Show was to begin, the company that ran the show Reed Exhibitions, a British-owned company, announced it would ban the sale or display of all AR-style rifles. The news spread like wildfire as it angered law-abiding gun owners who felt they were being blamed for the actions of mass shooters. Attendees and show vendors alike announced that they would boycott the show and the National Rifle Association (NRA) announced it would also boycott the show.
Cabela’s, the retail giant, announced on Facebook, “Due to recent changes made by Reed Exhibitions regarding the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Cabela’s will no longer sponsor this year’s event.” And that started the boycott of many more people involved. The Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp. estimated the no-shows would account for as much as $80 million in lost revenue for the regional economy.
Reed Exhibitions canceled the show just two weeks from opening day of the nine-day event.
When the show was canceled the dates of future scheduled shows became available. The NRA and 18 other prospective show producers submitted their names for consideration. Due to the fact the 300-mile area around Harrisburg boasts about a million NRA members and the fact Pennsylvania boasts about a million hunters, it was clear that this partnership could be a win-win situation. Through an extensive process, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (owner of the show site) selected the NRA to produce an outdoor show on the given dates.
In 2014 the event returned as the Great American Outdoor Show and included hunting, fishing, archery, camping and boating sections as well as a greatly expanded area of firearms and accessories.
The NRA put together its many brands and divisions into the nine-day show to sponsor and improve all sorts of outdoor fun including a pond casting competition, airgun and archery ranges, game-calling competitions, game-cooking seminars, gun-safety programs, evening banquets and concerts, and special presentations from top-tier celebrities.
Next year’s show already is scheduled for February 5 thru 13, 2022 and it looks to attract 1,000 exhibitors and hundreds of outfitters, don’t miss it!
Jack Danchak is a longtime sportsman and spent 30 years as the President of the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, Inc.
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