Over 200,000 outdoor enthusiasts are expected to visit the Harrisburg-area this week, bringing with them an array of turkey-calls, bows and arrows, and camoflauge.
Perhaps most important for the area? Money.
The Great American Outdoor Show opened Saturday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. Last year, the exposition brought hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region who spent an estimated $70 million in everything from event fees to parking, hotels and restaurants.
“It all contributes to the economic impact of the area,” said Harrisburg Chamber President David Black. “Keep in mind, it's February. Hotels usually don't fill up in February, so we love it when the show comes to town.”
Black added the show earned $180,000 in amusement taxes alone a year ago.
Two years ago, the future of the Great American Outdoor Show was in doubt.
The event – then known as the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show – cancelled days before it was set to begin following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
Enter the National Rifle Association, which stepped up to sponsor the show in 2014, and recently agreed to do so at the Farm Show Complex through 2020.
“It puts more people in our restaurants and in our hotels and walking on our streets,” Black said.
The annual show has brought people in from across the country.
“We’re all God-loving, Gun-loving, God-fearing like-minded people,” said Utah-native Allen Morris of the Farm Show atmosphere this week.
Morris said he has come to Harrisburg for the outdoor show the last ten years.
“People know where the event is every year,” he said. “They plan their lives around this week. These 10 days, these nine days.
“They plan their life around coming to Harrisburg.”