Dreary weather and icy roads kept some from attending the Jaffa Shrine's 31st annual Sports Show on Friday, but many expect crowds to pick up through the weekend, possibly even leading to a record turnout.
Vendors on both floors said business was slower than expected but steady and that they were glad to be there.
"There's still a backlog of vendors," said show Co-Chairman Paul Johnson.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
J.R. Campbell (left) of Campbell’s Taxidermy takes measurements of a white-tailed deer rack belonging to Bob Beckel of Altoona to give the rack a score.
Johnson said that some vendors from the indefinitely postponed Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show in Harrisburg tried to squeeze into the Jaffa show and others like it at the last minute, but for many, booth space was filled.
He said he hoped vendors lucky enough to snag a space will come away from the show with a good impression and encourage other vendors to sign up early next year.
Upstairs, Steve McNamara and Jeff Eisaman of Centerpoint Safety, Training & Protection said they were expecting a big influx of people today, but that business has been good, especially given the political climate.
"Our product is [gun-safety] training, and we're happy with the interest," McNamara said.
Eisaman said with gun control talk in Washington, D.C., people are "going and buying a gun, and they've never shot before."
Luckily, Eisaman said, many also are using services like Centerpoint so they know how to use their firearms.
Workers at JnD Guns downstairs said within the first three hours of business, they'd sold 50 PMAG magazines, which are designed for M4, M16 and AR-15 firearms.
Johnson said JnD is the only licensed weapons dealer at the show, with most other firearm-related booths selling accessories.
The show is more generally geared toward outdoor sports in general, and there is no push to get into the politics of gun ownership, Johnson said.
One of the biggest draws will be speakers, he said, covering topics from bass fishing and duck calling to wildlife trapping and photography.
They'll be the most exciting part of the weekend, he said.
Booth workers at Zimmerman Enterprises said they suspected the Harrisburg outdoors show had a lot to do with people going to smaller, more localized sports shows, and business has been good.
With warmer weather coming, they're expecting bigger crowds Saturday.
Judy Barrett at Aunt Carol's Gourmet Dips said she expects there will be so many people at the show today that she won't be able to keep up.
She's even got something for the outdoorsmen, she said.
A recipe for venison meatballs using her Bruschetta olive oil mix was published in a cookbook, and she's happy to supply customers with one of the key ingredients.
Eric Whitten of Sir Grant Charters said crowd size at the two other shows he rents booth space at had smaller turnout than he expected, but he thinks a general interest in all things hunting, fishing and camping will bring people in today.
Groups of families and teenage couples milled around booth displays Friday evening.
Some stopped to buy food, others were leaning over T-shirt displays and most kneeled to pet the various Labrador puppies on display - whether as bird dogs or pedigree breed - in most of the downstairs aisles.
The crowd might not have set a record yet, but Whitten said today will be the bellwether to measure the show's success.
"Tomorrow's gonna tell everything," he said Friday.
Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.