The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show was cancelled in 2013, when hunters and outfitters rebelled against management rules that restricted firearms and what many believed to be an intrusion on Second Amendment rights. Although this was a great disappointment to attendees and a terrible economic blow to thousands of guides and outfitters from around the world, there’s good news: The Harrisburg show is back! Now called The Great American Outdoor Show, the expo will be the largest consumer outdoor show in the United States, with 650,000 square feet of indoor floor space and a new shooting sports hall, which joins the archery, boats, RVs, fishing, outdoor rroducts, and hunting outfitter halls. In all, the show will house more than 1,000 exhibitors.
Despite the new name, most folks within 200 miles call it the “Harrisburg Show,” due to its location. Like a Disney park for sportsmen, almost every outdoor fantasy can be fulfilled, whether you’re an angler, hunter, shooter, or just love the outdoors. I’ve attended the show for more than 20 years (OK, a lot more than 20) yet never tire of the great excitement it provides. I’ve made friends around the world and still look forward to seeing hunting buddies on other continents. It’s like the ultimate high school reunion.
If there’s one drawback to the show, it’s that it may be too popular, resulting in long lines and a packed house. Although I’ll be there when the doors open on Saturday, Sunday afternoon will be less crowded, due to Super Bowl parties and folks with other priorities. I try to attend the show in the early afternoon during midweek, when the aisles are less crowded and I can spend more time looking for that perfect hunt. For all the details of the show (which runs February 1–9), check out their website: greatamericanoutdoorshow.org