This year’s Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, slated to open February 2, ended before it started. Besides leaving a 10-day gap in the calendars of over 1200 vendors, hundreds of thousands of show goers still wonder what happened.
January 24, with the show just 9 days away, Reed Exhibitions pulled the plug.
Reed Exhibitions, long-time owner of the show, has put on a great event for years. It grew to become the largest consumer outdoor show in North America – probably, in the world – thanks to show director Chris O’Hara and his hard-working team. Virtually every outdoor celebrity has appeared. Often, something new is added – this year Reed promoted “a new Tactical Gun & Accessories Section” to draw new show goers. Reed invited vendors to exhibit these weapons, and announced it to the public on November 26.
Sometime in the middle of January, Reed reversed its original decision and decided to ban “tactical” weapons –prohibiting even pictures of them. People began talking about a boycott, and someone created a Facebook page promoting a boycott. Within days, it had twice as many “likes” as the show’s own Facebook page. Cabelas, a corporate sponsor, withdrew on January 19, followed by four of the five corporate sponsors, including the Outdoor Channel.