After Reed Exhibitions “indefinitely postponed” the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, which was scheduled to take place in Harrisburg earlier this month, WQLV-FM in Millersburg quickly heard from frustrated listeners looking for an alternative.
The station will host a show dubbed the “American Outdoorsman Sport Show” at the Carlisle Expo Center March 21-24. Additional information can be found on the show’s website by clicking here.
“There were people who planned on coming in (for the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show). They would book their whole season just off of the one show in Harrisburg. And, they’d be from Wyoming, Montana, Canada,” said WQLV owner and president Ric Cooper.
Reed Exhibitions banned assault-style rifles from the show in the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. More than 300 vendors eventually boycotted, leading Reed to cancel the show with no immediate plans of rescheduling it.
Dauphin County leaders estimate the show has an $80 million economic impact on the region and is one of the largest shows of its kind in the country.
“You postpone a show like that, it’s not going to be started back up,” said Kenny Paul, host of WQLV’s morning show “Initial Reaction.”
After gauging interest on Facebook, the station moved quickly to organize an alternate show. So far, a couple dozen vendors have committed to attend, while another 55 contracts are pending. The expo center can hold 116 vendors, Cooper said.
Organizers of the show will allow assault-style rifles to be sold.
“If it’s legal in the United States for you to sell it, to own it, to use it, then it should be (allowed) at our show. So, that’s the way we’re setting the show up, just taking a common sense approach,” said Cooper.
Of course, the event won’t be on the scale of what ESOS typically is. The Dauphin County Commission has set aside $58,000 for a down payment on the Farm Show complex to reserve it next year in an attempt to ensure an outdoor show happens. Commissioners are working with the Harrisburg-Hershey Convention and Visitors Bureau to talk to event promoters to see what interest they have in hosting the show.
WQLV managers say they’re interested in taking on that task if Reed doesn’t come back. They point out many vendors may not be willing to go after the controversy that’s surrounded this year’s show.
“They kind of want to stick it to (Reed Exhibitions) for not taking them seriously about wanting to be able to display or sell the assault rifles and things like that,” said Cooper.
If you’re planning to go: Admission will be $10 for people 12 and up. The event will run March 21-24, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. It picks up again Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.