Outdoor show returns to Harrisburg

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 31, 2014 3:06 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Outdoor enthusiasts are expected to flock to the Farm Complex in Harrisburg for the Great American Outdoor Show.

The popular event is re-launching one year after the former Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show was cancelled over a controversial decision to ban military-style assault rifles.

deer buck hunting

The National Rifle Association won the bid to manage the show, over 16 other groups.

"We're very in tune with the outdoor lifestyle. We're founded on the principles of education and training and marksmanship. So we're bringing interactive programs that showcase the things that NRA does day in and day out across the country, and so I think we're going to show attendees kinda a new side of NRA," says the NRA's Jeremy Greene.

Greene says the event will keep the emphasis on camping and fishing, not hunting.

Guns will be sold at the show, but will not be able to be taken off premises. Instead, buyers will have to get them shipped to a Federal Firearms License dealer near their home.

"It's an area that is very open to the hunting and outdoor lifestyle. We think NRA fits really well with this crowd, so we're just excited about bringing a little more to the show."

Greene also says attendees can expect more national manufacturers as well.

Economic impact

Many economic leaders in central Pennsylvania are also thrilled the Outdoor Show is back.

Many are touting the impact the event could have on restaurants, hotels, and more across the region. Estimates peg the economic impact at somewhere between $80 and $90 million for the nine-day show.

That's money for restaurants, bars, hotels and others in central Pennsylvania.

Rick Dunlap of the Hershey-Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau says the area is ready to welcome the event back after the cancellation of last year's event.

"They are so passionate about it. And it was heartbreaking. I'm not exaggerating to say that many people were just heartbroken that this show was cancelled and they thought that maybe it wasn't coming back."

The NRA says pre-sold tickets are already coming from outside of Pennsylvania.

"We may have smaller numbers at the outdoor show versus the farm show, but the outdoors men and women spend a lot more while they're here," says Dunlap.

The group hopes to eventually turn the show into a national attraction that will fill hotels across the region.

The nine-day show will also feature a country music concert and a new kid's area with a magnetic fishing setup and face painting.

It starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday February 9th. Organizers expect about 200,000 people to attend.

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