(Harrisburg) -- The National Rifle Association will operate a major sports and outdoors show in Harrisburg next year.
The NRA was selected from among 17 applicants to take over running the event that was known as the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show and help raise its national profile.
President David Keene calls the cancellation a “tragedy” which his organization plans to rectify with the new Great American Outdoor Show. “It was an economic tragedy for the Harrisburg area and for Pennsylvania. It was a tragedy for those families that look forward to attending this show.”
The show, which is among the largest in the nation, was called off in January after its Britain-based event producer, Reed Exhibitions, banned the display of military style semi-automatic weapons.
The decision led to a boycott from more than 200 vendors, and ultimately caused the cancellation.
Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste says the move cost the region more than $80 million in lost revenue.
He says the NRA's involvement will help attract even more attendees. "They take this show to a new level. It will be to a national level. By having gone to the show over the years, I've developed friends that are outdoorsmen from across the nation, as well as in Canada. We now have a partner that can take this to the level that meets those needs, and not just what we see here, but on a much greater level."
The nine-day show typically draws a quarter million visitors to the Harrisburg area.
Before the announcement, the NRA requested bomb-sniffing dogs search the witf Public Media Center and several police officers were posted at the entrance.
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