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The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show is a unique celebration of the authentic hunting and fishing traditions that are cherished by millions of Americans and their families.  The show runs February 2-10, 2013 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. For more details and a list of events click here.

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“We estimate that we had an 80 million dollar hit to our economy. It’s like our stock market crashed that day,” said Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste. Haste says the cancelled Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show was a huge detriment to the local economy. The show was cancelled because of major backlash after organizer Reed Exhibitions banned the sale of certain guns.

The NRA will put on the show, now called the Great American Outdoor Show. After Dauphin County Commissioners selected the group, rumors started to swirl that the NRA would not allow the sale of any guns at the show.

Haste said he went to an NRA convention and purchased a gun to experience the process for himself. “You can buy a gun, you just can’t buy a gun and walk out with it that day,” said Haste. “You cannot buy one and carry it out. But you can buy one, you take a certificate to a gun dealer the gun dealer checks everything out and it’s done through the system.”

Joe Staudt with Staudt’s Gun Shop on Allentown Blvd. said this policy could help his business, which is only a few miles away from where the show will take place, at the Farm Show Complex. “It definitely gives us local dealers an advantage, we are close by,” said Staudt. “We’ll be able to sell a gun to the customer at the show. They will just have to come out here to our shop to pick it up, or we can ship it to a dealer near them if they are out-of-state,” said Staudt.

Staudt made it clear that if anyone from Pennsylvania buys a handgun or long gun from him at the show, they can go right to his shop, undergo the background check, and take their purchase home with them right away. If the purchaser lives out-of-state, they can pick up the long gun at the shop, after a background check. If someone out-of-state purchases a handgun, it will be shipped to a dealer in their state, and they will go through the process there.

“I’m really excited about it and I think that the fact that we didn’t have it last year was a financial detriment for the area. I think this is going to be the biggest show we’ve ever had,” said Staudt.

Commissioner Haste agreed. “I think this show is going to be like nothing we have ever seen before.  They [NRA] have great contacts throughout the nation. So, not only are we going to see a show at that building for that week, they are going to have 2 or 3 concerts that week, two on site, and one offsite, they are going to have dinners with celebrities, they’re going to have events with celebrities,” said Haste.

We talked to some local gun shops who choose not to participate in the new show next year because the no gun policy is not cost-effective for their business.

The NRA responded to their concerns: “There were over 1,000 exhibitors at the previous show in Harrisburg and we would love to have them all exhibit at the Great American Outdoor Show. We’re only a month into booth sales being open and already have over 400 exhibitors signed up. The new firearms hall, where attendees can check out thousands of guns, is nearly sold out and features National manufacturers as well as several local guns shops. We hope that those shops that choose not to exhibit at the 2014 Great American Outdoor Show will come check out the excitement and improvements to the show and grab a booth in 2015,” said Jeremy Greene, Marketing/Media Relations Division of the National Rifle Association.

The Great American Outdoor Show is a nine-day event for all things outdoors: hunting, fishing, etc. Exhibitors range from shooting manufacturers, outfitters, fishing boats and RV’s, and archery. Events include concerts, fundraising dinners, speaking events, archery competitions, celebrity appearances, seminars, demonstrations and more.

The Great American Outdoor show runs February 1-9, 2014.

For more information on the show click here.

Just like the National Rifle Association meetings, firearms at the Great American Outdoor Show will be on display but not for sale.  The show in Harrisburg will take the place of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show which was cancelled this year.

The NRA says it’s introducing many new features to the show.  The goal is to attract a national audience in Harrisburg.  But as the new sponsors of the show, they’ve made another change that’s promoting negative opinions from local gun shops who rely on the show to make a living.

Staudt’s Gun Shop is one of few mom and pop gun shops in Harrisburg.

Owner Joe Staudt says, “We have a lot of people who are competitive shooters, recreational shooters, a lot of hunters.”

Staudt says his business of two years may no longer be taking a shot at next year’s Great American Outdoor Show.

He says, “For me to go there and display some guns when they can go right over the Smith and Wesson, or Colt counter and see every gun they make, there’s really no advantage for us to go to take guns for display purposes.”

In addition to including major manufacturers at the Farm Show Complex, Staudt says his shop could lose 30% of its annual earnings by not being able to sell firearms.

Staudt says, “If we can’t sell there, and we’re only going to be marketing or just handing out cards and telling people about us we have to look at the rate of return, if it will be worth while or not.”

The shop is a million dollar business that includes gunsmithing.  So the decision to attend the show is still up in the air.

Staudt says, “I was looking forward to having that broader market for us to get exposure this year.  And we’re not sure if we’ll particiapte or not.”

The NRA says they’re comfortable with their decisions.

Dauphin County Commissioner, Jeff Haste says, “”It is the NRA’s policy, not something they just drafted up.  It’s their policy they don’t sell guns at their show.”

Haste says the NRA’s interest is making sure the event is an outdoor show with more to offer than only guns.

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.

The cancellation of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show has affected thousands of vendors, exhibitors and other businesses. Some Lancaster County businesses are trying to make up for the lost revenue by organizing sales the week the show would have run, February 2nd through the 10th. “The situation with the sports show affected every exhibitor there. It’s certainly not pleasant to go through. We have all this inventory, so several of us that boycotted in the area decided to get together. If we collectively bring people in, you know, people can make a shopping trip out of it,” says president of Lancaster Archery Rob Kaufhold. Lancaster Archery Supply is running sales on numerous items including Nikon Archers choice rangefinders, tree stands, stick ladders, and Badlands Packs. For more on Lancaster Archery Supply click here. “It’s an opportunity to attract those same kinds of customers to the local area during that sports show week,” says Kaufhold.

Trop Gun Shop in Mount Joy Township will also have sales. “We had plans with the vendors to provide us with a certain amount of inventory. So that inventory is no longer going to be delegated to the show, it’s going to be available at the store,” says Sales Manager James Diehl. Items include certain knives, hats, high-capacity magazines, and safes. They are also planning on giving away an AR15. “Because this was the type of rifle that they banned from display or sale from the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show we felt that would be fitting for a giveaway,” says Diehl. Participants must bring in a receipt of purchase [made from February 2-10] from any exhibitor who withdrew from the show as of January 24th. This includes Trop Gun Shop. For more on Trop Gun Show and the AR15 giveaway click here.

Participating businesses/merchants  include:
Kinsey’s Outdoors
Lancaster Archery Supply
Trop Gun Show
Upper Canyon Outfitters

Local business braced for a significant economic hit after Reed Exhibitions announced Thursday it’s indefinitely postponing the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show. The event was scheduled to start next Saturday at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

The annual event draws people from across the country for the biggest show of its kind on the East Coast. The Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau estimated the economic impact to be at least $80 million.

“The granddaddy, it’s the same impact that you would have if you were to cancel the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 10 days,” said Randy Stuart, vice president of sales for Milestone Hospitality Management. The company manages three hotels in the Harrisburg area.

Stuart estimated his business would lose $220,000 from guest cancellations alone.

“All the folks who come from feeder cities to go to this event, just in our three hotels alone it’s 2,400 rooms,” said Stuart.

The visitors bureau called its economic impact estimate conservative “because it does not factor in venue revenue from parking, food & beverage, service and rental fees. The estimate also does not include the lost room tax revenue collected by Dauphin County or the lost revenue at Harrisburg International Airport or other related facilities and service providers.

Reed decided to limit the use of assault rifles at the show in the wake of the hot political debate over the role of guns in American society.

Some gun rights advocates were highly critical of the decision, leading some to boycott the event. As of Thursday, a website keeping track of vendors estimated more than 300 of them had decided to back out of the event. You can read about that by clicking here.

Reed released a statement about the decision Thursday but declined interview requests. (Click here to read the full statement.)

The statement reads in part, “It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this celebratory event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing.”

Jospeh Staudt runs a gun store just outside Harrisburg and had planned to be an exhibitor for the first time at the show. However, he said the show became so controversial, he became one of the 300 vendors who decided not to go.

“I am disappointed overall, first that we had to back out of the show, and of course now that it’s postponed, I’m hoping that Reed Exhibitions when and if they do decide to put it back on, that this restriction on certain firearms won’t apply,” said Staudt.

Staudt said he recently returned from the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nev., which Reed Exhibitions produces and manages. It’s a huge trade show which is not open to the public. Staudt said it featured assault weapons, the kind Reed was attempting to limit in Pennsylvania.

While Reed managed the show, it’s owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is based in Newtown, Conn.

Staudt said he would consider attending the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show should it end up happening. But, he wants Reed to reconsider its decision on which weapons to allow.

Staudt said he is “hoping that Reed Exhibitions would change their mind and since these types of firearms are not outlawed, that they would be able to be a part of the show.”

The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show has been postponed this year over the gun debate. Reed Exhibitions posted this statement to the show’s website this morning.

“Reed Exhibitions has decided to postpone, for now, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show given the controversy surrounding its decision to limit the sale or display of modern sporting rifles (also called ARs) at the event. The show was scheduled to take place February 2-10 in Harrisburg, PA.

“Our original decision not to include certain products in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show this year was made in order to preserve the event’s historical focus on the hunting and fishing traditions enjoyed by American families,” said Chet Burchett, Reed Exhibitions President for the Americas. “In the current climate, we felt that the presence of MSRs would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests. This was intended simply as a product decision, of the type event organizers need to make every day.

“It has become very clear to us after speaking with our customers that the event could not be held because the atmosphere of this year’s show would not be conducive to an event that is designed to provide family enjoyment. It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this celebratory event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing.

“ESS has long been proud to participate in the preservation and promotion of hunting and fishing traditions, and we hope that as the national debate clarifies, we will have an opportunity to consider rescheduling the event when the time is right to focus on the themes it celebrates.”

The information above provided by the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show and Reed Exhibitions.

The Sportsman’s Shop in New Holland, PA announces its decision to pull out of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show scheduled next month at the State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.

The decision follows Reed Exhibitions’ announcement last month to ban Modern Sporting Rifles from the show, and after lengthy negotiations between Joe Keffer, owner of the Sportsman’s Shop, and Reed Exhibition.  Keffer, who serves on the Board of Governors of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, was working with Reed to reach an agreement regarding its change to the 2013 show.

“As a long-time exhibitor at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, I was hopeful that an agreement could be reached to allow the show to continue at the caliber to which my fellow exhibitors, manufacturers and the more than 200,000 attendees have come to expect,” states Keffer. “While I respect Reed’s desire to be sensitive to events that have caused great pain to Connecticut and our nation, and to avoid negative publicity for the show, it’s also critical that we don’t infringe on the rights of safe, responsible, law-abiding citizens’ right to purchase, own and use legal firearms. We must not allow these good people to be lumped into the same category as those who misuse firearms and commit unspeakable crimes.”

The Sportsman’s Shop was a featured exhibitor at the show, showcasing more than a dozen firearms and accessories manufacturers.  Those manufacturers support Keffer’s decision and have also decided to withdraw from the show.

Founded in 1954, The Sportsman’s Shop is the oldest specialty shop of its kind in Lancaster County. Today, the Sportsman’s Shop is recognized for its expertise, product knowledge and for its specialized services, including gunsmithing and customization.  For more information on the Sportsman’s Shop visit


The article above provided by the Sportsman’s Shop in New Holland.

The National Wild Turkey Federation has joined the growing list of organizations, vendors and people to boycott the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show.

The federation said it needs to take a clear stance on support of sportsmen and the Second Amendment and the clear link between the two.
“We feel strongly about the importance of the Second Amendment in pursuit of our mission of preserving out hunting heritage,” said Skip Motts, President of the NWTF Pennsylvania State Chapter. “We reached out to our chapters from across the state and received overwhelming support for taking this stand.”


The NRA is joining the ranks of exhibitors and vendors withdrawing from the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show at the Farm Show Complex due to the event’s organizers decision to ban modern sporting rifles, labeled assault-style weapons by gun control advocates, this year. The following statement appears on their website:

Due to Reed Exhibitions’ refusal to reconsider their decision to ban Modern Sporting Rifles from the February 2-10 Eastern Sports Show in Harrisburg, PA, the National Rifle Association has decided to withdraw from the show. We had called on Reed Exhibitions to reconsider their decision; unfortunately they have steadfastly refused to do so. As a result, the NRA will not be participating in the upcoming show in Harrisburg or in any other shows hosted by Reed Exhibitions that maintain this policy. We are disappointed that Reed Exhibitions has ignored the concerns expressed by attendees, the outdoor industry and the NRA in not reconsidering their position to ban the display of Modern Sporting Rifles.