By Kyle Jillson | January 7 2014 14:30

NRA takes command of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's famed annual outdoor show

NRA's Great American Outdoor Show

Fairfax, Virginia - Arguably our #1 story of the year, 2013 saw the NRA take over production of the annual Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, hunting and outdoor show after an attempt to ban modern sporting rifles led to a protest and eventual cancellation. Harrisburg's economy was estimated to have lost $80 million dollars from the vendors and visitors who did not arrive to do business in the state capital.

With management of the show open to a new organization, the NRA jumped at the chance to not only run the show, but help it grow into something much larger than it had been before. We knew we could achieve this growth thanks to our 141 (now 142) years of putting on the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits. Harrisburg's show is the largest consumer outdoor show in the country, but it was still only a regional attraction. A combination of the show's existing support and the NRA's ambition would turn the Harrisburg show into a national event, drawing outdoors enthusiasts from all over the United States.

“The boycott of this year’s show displayed a real solidarity among the outdoor community, but left a lot of people seeking answers after the cancellation,” said David Keene, former National Rifle Association President. “We heard from many exhibitors and many more of our members who expressed their disappointment and were concerned about the show’s future. As an exhibitor at the show for over 30 years ourselves, and with 900,000 of our nearly five million members within 300 miles of Harrisburg, the decision to offer our support was unanimous.”

The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex was impressed with our excitement over the show and we were honored to be awarded the management role last spring. Since then we've been busy planning for the 2014 Great American Outdoor Show to be a experience that outdoor enthusiasts will never forget. From February 1st through the 9th, the Great American Outdoor Show will bring back the same flavor and style Harrisburg's outdoor show is known for and more.

Featuring more than 1,000 exhibitors, this year's show has added a new shooting sports area to join the traditional hunting, fishing, archery, camping, and boating sections. The new shooting sports area also wholly allows modern sporting rifles and any other products or services that support the outdoor lifestyle. In addition to the local firearms companies who will populate the new hall, national manufacturers will be present - fresh from the industry-based SHOT Show in Las Vegas - to show off their latest wares. And don't worry, all the favorite vendors traditionally present will still be there. The show is simply getting larger.

But the exhibit hall won't be the only attraction at the show. Our vision for the Great American Outdoor Show was to immediately expand it and create an experience that lasted beyond the exhibit hall doors closing each day. This year's attendees will be able to indulge in a NRA Country concert featuring Trace Adkins, seminars, speaking events from some of the country's best-known personalities, and a fundraising dinner.

So who's invited? Everybody. While we are now running the show, it won't be restricted to only NRA members. Everyone with an interest in hunting, fishing, camping and the outdoors is invited to attend.

We have high hopes for this year's show and it's hard to believe we'll be cutting the ribbon in Harrisburg in just a couple weeks. This show promises to be more than a positive sign for the vendors, patrons and the city of Harrisburg. We'll see you there.

Take a full look at the Great American Outdoor Show on NRAblog.

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