Despite weather conditions, Great American Outdoor Show attendance appeared strong
While weather conditions were less than ideal last week, interest in the rebranded Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg remained hot.
That was evident by the traffic volumes along Cameron Street and most major thoroughfares heading into Harrisburg, as well as the full parking lots and steady streams of attendees entering the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.
"I'm kind of surprised that the weather hasn't put a damper on the show at all and the crowds are still out in force," Jeremy Greene, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, the producer of this year's show, said Thursday. "I guess it speaks to the passion of sportsmen and women in the region."
The absence of the outdoor show last year also sparked quite the interest from media companies far and wide. The NRA said it has received about four times the number of press credential requests — about 300 — compared to past shows.
Local vendors also noted the large crowds.
"When it's not bad weather, it seems attendance is good," said Chad "Moose" Whitmoyer, a veteran technician for Lancaster Archery Supply, one of the vendors.
The Lancaster County company has been attending the show for about two decades. It has grown its presence at the show to about 800 square feet.
"I think they did a great job with the show," Whitmoyer said of the NRA, citing the wider aisles for foot traffic.
Lancaster Archery Supply sold more bows this year compared with two years ago, he said. When the show was canceled last year, the company opted to run special pricing at the shop, he said.
For Joe Staudt, owner of Staudt's Gun Shop in West Hanover Township, it was the first time his growing gun shop was exhibiting at the show.
Staudt opened his shop on Allentown Boulevard in 2011 and was planning to attend as a vendor last year.
"It sends people to our shop," he said of the show. "We're building our local (customer) base."
The Great American Outdoor Show is the only event he is attending. Staudt's is a small custom gunsmith that has grown to 10 employees.
Staudt said he sold some custom muzzleloaders.
"It's about future sales," he said.
Staudt said he got into the business to build relationships, provide great customer service and be the go-to source for custom products that other dealers can't provide.
The Great American Outdoor Show wrapped up on Sunday. Attendance figures were not immediately available.