Outdoor Show

Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show postponed

2013-01-24T10:53:00Z 2013-01-24T18:01:48Z Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show postponedThe Associated Press The Associated Press
January 24, 2013 10:53 am  • 

After a week of protests and cancellations led to the postponement of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show Thursday, vendors and small business owners are left to deal with the aftermath.

“I am a small outfit,” said Rick Harro, owner of Gobbler Getter Turkey Calls in Enola. “I do turkey calls and I had to pull out because as soon as the NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) decided to pull out, that is what I am all about, the NWTF.”

Harro, who said it costs $2,000 for a small booth, said he hopes vendors will get back their entry money because costs like that can weigh heavy on small businesses.

“That for me is taking the chance of putting me out of business,” he said. “I feel bad that the show had to end, I did it last year and it was great meeting all the people. I had a lot of customers I was expecting to see this year. I wish it would have never happened, but it did.”

Reed Exhibitions announced Thursday morning on its website that it would postpone the show, which was scheduled to run Feb. 2-10 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, given the “controversy surrounding its decision to limit the sale or display of modern sporting rifles (also called ARs) at the event.”

Reed Exhibitions decided to ban the sale and display of assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The company previously said the decision was made because of concerns that the “current climate” would distract from the emphasis on hunting and fishing “and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests.”

Vendors pull out

The ban angered a significant portion of the show’s customer base, and a growing number of vendors had announced they were pulling out of the show. Online listings showed more than 200 sellers had decided against participation, a number Reed did not confirm.

“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.”

The ban, Burchett said, would have affected a small percentage of the show’s 1,000 exhibits.

“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,” he said.

An email sent Thursday to ticket-buyers promised refunds and said the process will be posted on the show’s website, the Associated Press reported.

“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,” Burchett said.

All vendors now affected

Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited was one of the vendors that did not pull out of the show and would have been there Feb. 2 had the show not been postponed. Though CVTU President Justin Pittman would not comment about the debate that led to the show’s postponement, he said the postponement does hurt the organization.

“It was a big fundraiser for us,” Pittman said. “It was a great opportunity for CVTU to educate the community on what we do. We recruit a lot of youth for our youth programs.”

Despite the results, those like Harro stand by their decision to boycott the event.

“We stuck up for something we believe in,” he said. “I am a gun owner and I am going to fight for my rights to have my guns to protect my family. It is a legitimate concern here.”

Doug Dietrich of American Whitetails of Pennsylvania, Inc., Harrisburg, said his organization pulled out of the show because of the ban.

“Once we found out that they were not going to allow certain types of guns or accessories to be displayed or sold at the show, we decided to pull out,” he said. “I don’t think that is in the spirit of the show or the spirit of the people who would be coming to the show, and it is definitely against how we feel about gun control and gun laws. It is just against my beliefs to participate in an event that excludes something I believe in, the right to protect yourself by any means necessary, and that includes using ARs and those types of weapons.”

Dietrich said bans like this are in direct opposition to his organization.

“I think this particular group, I don’t know what their beliefs are, but their actions say a lot,” he said. “As far as (assault rifles) go, they are just a tool, they are for defense as well as offense.”

Taking a stand

Capt. Jayson Wilt, guide manager for Black Duck Outfitters in Maryland said it was “a shame.”

“I have gone to that show ever since I was 5 with my father,” he said.

Wilt said his organization decided to pull out of the show to support those who were previously banned from displaying and selling their wares.

“There is a bunch of different reasons, but the main one is their decision to ban some of the vendors there,” he said. “I think it is a Second Amendment issue myself. My outlook is, I personally don’t own any tactical weapons or anything like that, but a lot of my business guys do use semiautomatic shotguns. My thought process is, if you start banning certain firearms ... once you give them a foot they are going to take a mile. I don’t support them banning some of the vendors that display tactical weapons or accessories for sale or just display.”

Wilt said bans like this could effect not only his business, but the business of all outdoorsmen.

“For a show like that, which is going after the sportsman for the most part, law-abiding hunters and outdoorsmen that shoot, I just didn’t think that it was very ethical,” he said. “We as outdoor guys have to stick together because there are so many organizations right now that are more or less out to end what most of us love to do and for me personally what I do to make a living. I love what I do for a living, and it kind of threatens my way of life.”

Kyle Stimeling, owner of Dirty Dog Outdoors in Newport echoed Wilt’s statements, saying his company backs, “our Second Amendment right and we fully stand behind the constitution.”

Stimeling also said he was glad to see the show postponed.

“Hopefully they will take a different stance on everything due to the lack of customers that they are going to be seeing this year due to Reed Exhibition’s decision to ban modern sporting rifles and high-capacity magazines,” he said.


Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

HARRISBURG - The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show show was postponed indefinitely Thursday after its organizers' ban on assault weapons triggered a backlash and a growing vendor boycott.

Reed Exhibitions posted a notice on the website of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show that said an "emotionally charged atmosphere" had been created that would make it impossible to hold an event "designed to provide family enjoyment."

The nine-day show had been scheduled to start Feb. 2 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. Reed's statement said the show was being postponed "for now" but did not elaborate, and a Reed spokeswoman declined an interview request or to provide details beyond that posting.

"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," Chet Burchett, Reed Exhibitions' regional president, said in a statement.

He said that the presence of "modern sporting rifles" would have distracted from the show's focus on hunting and fishing, "a product decision ... of the type event organizers need to make every day."

The ban, Burchett said, would have affected a small percentage of the show's 1,000 exhibits.

"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," he said.

An email sent Thursday to ticket-buyers promised refunds and said the process will be posted on the show's website.

Reed had decided to ban the sale and display of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines after the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The company had previously said the decision was made because of concerns that the "current climate" would distract from the emphasis on hunting and fishing "and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests."

The move angered a significant portion of the show's customer base, and a growing number of vendors had announced they were pulling out of the show. Online listings showed more than 200 sellers had decided against participation, a number Reed did not confirm.

Posted earlier on Cumberlink:

Reed Exhibitions Thursday announced on its website its decision to postpone 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 Feb. 2 to 10 in Harrisburg.

“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,” Burchett continued. “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.”

For more information, check out The Sentinel’s print and online edition on Friday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. SteveMetz
    Report Abuse
    SteveMetz - January 26, 2013 7:30 am
    The exhibitor should have stuck to the Constitution and let anyone who is a member of a well organized militia buy or sell any type of weapon they want.

    The "typical liberal" and "slippery slope" arguments show how little people actually understand the Constitution or the American political process.
  2. vinoman1953
    Report Abuse
    vinoman1953 - January 25, 2013 8:40 am
    Reed Exhibitions has felt the cost of PC! Sportsmen are patriots who believe in the constitution and individual rights. With Thompson's assault on gun owners, Hbg deserves everything it gets. U people want a ban on legitimate gun ownership, this is your payoff. An assault on one gun owner is an assault on us all. I have personally boycotted any business that is anti American, such as Ben and Jerry's. I encourage others to do the same, to include so called shows that spt gun control.
  3. jeremy13
    Report Abuse
    jeremy13 - January 24, 2013 3:04 pm
    This opens the way for a real outdoor show run by a responsible organizer. Reed Exhibitions has proven they cannot handle a show.
  4. CarlisleGirl
    Report Abuse
    CarlisleGirl - January 24, 2013 12:07 pm
    I hope they "stick to their guns" on this one and do the show as they want, later. Frankly, I support their decision and hope they do not bend to outside pressure.
  5. oatka
    Report Abuse
    oatka - January 24, 2013 11:38 am
    Reed has canceled the show without an apology or even admission that they were at fault. Typical liberals - they lamely blame the exhibitors for reacting to a unilateral contract change they made. The illusion to “politically charged atmosphere” is phony, given that they were the ones that charged it.

    I feel sorry for the small vendors and local suppliers - they take a financial hit (no refunds?) because a British-owned company tried to foist the agenda on Americans.

    They forgot about 1776.
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