by Jason J. Brown - Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The 2017 Great American Outdoor Show, held Feb. 4-12 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was a huge success and another great year for the world’s largest consumer outdoor show!
The fans that packed into the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex set a record for show attendance, marking the highest one-day total of visitors in the show's four-year history.
In total, more than 200,000 attendees came from across the country (and in some cases, around the world) to explore the 650,000 square feet of outdoor exhibits, featuring nearly 500 hunting and fishing outfitters and charters, 1,100 exhibitors, celebrity appearances, expert seminars, music, food and much more as part of the nine-day celebration of everything outdoors.
A staple of the show since the NRA assumed production in 2014, the massive shooting sports hall attracted huge crowds throughout the nine days, featuring firearms, ammo, gear and more from the world's top manufacturers.
Returning this year was the sensational DockDogs event, wherein tens of thousands of spectators watched high-flying pooches demonstrate their athletic ability by jumping from a dock into a splash pool in pursuit of flying toys. A crowd favorite last year, DockDogs proved again to be a marquee attraction, filling the arena for each presentation.
The Small Arena events captured the imagination and wonder of spectators, including the majestic educational demonstrations birds of prey by Raptors Up Close, the archery trick-shot mastery of Chris Brackett, and others.
Interactive events put attendees in the action, including the NRA Air Gun Range and NRA Range Experience, the latter allowing participants to shoot through a course of fire designed by NRA expert trainers using air gun replicas of popular rifles and pistols. Over in the Kid’s Casting Contest, each kid that entered to demonstrate his or her fishing skills received a free fishing rod. After nine days, more than 700 kids had taken home a new rod!
The 3D Bowhunter Challenge Presented by Kinsey’s Outdoors, which pitted aspiring archers against a crowded field in pursuit of trophies and cash prizes, welcomed an increase in participants from last year’s show, with more spectators watching them shoot their way through the 30-shot course.
This year, a star-studded lineup, including legendary big game hunter Jim Shockey, the colorful Brian “Pigman” Quaca, huntress Melissa Bachman, chopper crafters Paul Sr. and Mikey Teutul from Orange County Choppers and more scheduled appearances and meet-and-greets throughout the show, signing autographs and snapping photos with fans.
Parents and kids alike raved about the NRA Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program Kids Zone, an interactive exhibit where children could take a break from the halls of taxidermy, compound bows and camo jackets to get their face painted, shoot some hoops, snag some cool giveaways and learn about wildlife, all while taking in valuable gun safety information from NRA experts.
In keeping with show traditions, fan favorite vendors returned to the show to peddle their tasty treats, including Wild Pennsylvania wild game jerky, as well as the famous PA Dairyman's Association milkshakes who earned their reputation at the annual Farm Show in the same building. Fans also munched on Amish pretzels, pickles, and a smorgasbord of other foods perfect for hearty appetites powered by the busy days at the show.
As expected, the NRA Country Concert on Saturday Feb. 11 brought the house down, as Tara Thompson, Granger Smith (and his alter-ego Earl Dibbles, Jr.) and headliner Dustin Lynch rocked the Large Arena to a packed house.
The 2017 Great American Outdoor Show may be over, but it’s never too early to begin planning for next year’s show! We return to Harrisburg Feb. 3-11, 2018, for our fifth year of America’s premier outdoor lifestyle show, so be sure to mark your calendars to be part of the tradition!
Be sure the check out the photo gallery above!