Reed Exhibitions said it has decided to postpone, for now, 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 February 2-10 in Harrisburg, PA.

Our original decision not to include certain products in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show this year was made in order to preserve the events 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 years show would not be conducive to an event that is designed to provide family enjoyment. 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.

In a separate statement, the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau estimated that the postponement of the state’s largest outdoor sports
show means $44 million in direct spending from vendors and attendees and
$80 million in lost revenue for the local economy. The 22 hotels
offering special room rate agreements for show vendors and attendees say
the event accounted for approximately 12,000 room-nights over a 10-day
period in a traditionally slow tourism season for a region that welcomes
10 million visitors annually.

Tourism officials claim the
estimated loss is conservative, factoring in only the direct and
indirect spending for the 1,000 vendors and anticipated 250,000

“Reported numbers do not account for lost revenue at the event complex from parking, food and beverage, and service and rental fees,” said Mary Smith, president of HHRVB.

The bureau did not have details on the lost revenue at the complex but Smith said it would be in the millions considering the scale of this event compared to other shows they have secured for the complex. The estimates also do not account for lost revenue from the 5 percent hotel tax collected by Dauphin County.

Officials are not commenting on the producer’s postponement decision, nor are they aware at this time what Reed Exhibitions plans are for rescheduling.

“Our relationship with Reed Exhibitions has continued to strengthen and grow over the years and we are hopeful that the show will return,” said Sharon Altland, director of sales for HHRVB. “This is the largest privately produced show at the complex considering the PA Farm Show is a state organized event. Those two traditional events have become pillars of our January and February tourism business with many local businesses relying on them to make their first quarter numbers.”

SOURCE  Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau