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The Great American Outdoor Show Turns Harrisburg into a National Destination

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Every year, the Great American Outdoor Show draws hundreds of thousands to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Every year, the Great American Outdoor Show draws hundreds of thousands to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

For nine days, the world’s largest outdoor show took center stage as thousands flocked to the Great American Outdoor Show inside the Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The show featured more than 1,100 exhibitors, from gun makers to outfitters, producers of hunting gear, camping, fishing, archery, and more in over 650,000 square feet of space. Notable outdoorsmen and women such as Phil Robertson and Melissa Bachman also appeared as part of a packed schedule of seminars, archery competitions, fundraising dinners, and country concerts. All in all, more than 250 outdoor celebrities attended the event, along with nearly 200,000 attendees, was in many places standing room only.

Hosted by the National Rifle Association since 2013, the Great American Outdoor Show is a celebration of the hunting, fishing, and shooting traditions that are beloved by millions of Americans. The show not only makes Harrisburg a national destination, but it also pumps over $70 million into the local economy. This in turn supports over 8,000 jobs in the community, including many at area hotels, restaurants, and attractions. Competition for booth space is also fierce. The NRA says that by the end of the 2016 event, over 75 percent of booth space has already been sold for next year’s show.

“60% of AAA Alaskan’s Business is conducted at the Great American Outdoor Show,” said master guide and outfitter Brent Jones.

It is not all about numbers however. The Great American Outdoor Show is also jam-packed with things to do. Along with concerts from headline country music stars like Justin Moore, the show also included an air gun range, archery practice center, fishing workshop, and 3D bowhunter challenge. Appearances from R. Lee Ermey, Michael Waddell, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, and Lee and Tiffany Lakosky kept the expo center packed throughout February 6 to February 14. Of course, there were also plenty of good eats such as sizzling off the grill barbecue and pulled pork sandwiches. Daniel Defense even sponsored a cafe right next to their booth.

When the NRA became the show producer in 2013, it made a commitment to revitalize the outdoor show and bring in major national brands. With the success of this year’s show, which drew in participants from 47 states, it seems that the Great American Outdoor Show is only getting started.

You can see a teaser for the 2016 show below:

Watch a virtual tour of the show:

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • Jeremy Kerstetter

    Great show again guys, thanks for putting it on. My wife and I go every year and spend a day. It has been so much better since the NRA has taken it over. It needed a fresh look and it got it.