Update: Eastern Sports Show Refunding Fees

Various Sources, Bear Hunting Magazine

Update 1/28/2013:

Reed Announces Refunds of Eastern Show Fees

Reed Exhibitions released a statement saying they would refund all fees paid as of January 24, 2013 by exhibitors. Following the withdrawal of more than 200 companies, Reed announced the "postponement" of the event originally scheduled to begin February 2, 2013 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Breaking News from 1/24/2013:
Reed Exhibitions has decided to postpone, for now, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show given the controversy surrounding its decision to ban the presence of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. The show was scheduled to take place February 2-10, 2013 in Harrisburg, PA.

Here is part of their statement released on the website for the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show:
“Our original decision not to include certain products in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show this year was made in order to preserve the event’s 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."

When news came earlier this week that Cabela's would no longer be attending or sponsoring the 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, PA this year, many had no idea how large this boycott would turn into. This came after the show announced that they were banning the presence of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Reed Exhibitions runs this show as well as 31 others across the United States each year, including the industries largest (SHOT Show) that just wrapped up in Las Vegas.

The explosiveness of the gun control issue, and the power of social media has turned this show into the battle ground for gun right advocates. As the week has continued on, a growing list of vendors and celebrities announced they would boycott North America's largest outdoor show, which is set to begin February 2, 2013.

Many companies believe that outdoor enthusiasts will hold it against their business if they participate in the show at this point. And, with all the headlines this has brought in the news this week, many believe the attendance drop will cut into sales. Even those who only sell archery equipment believe that this is a lose-lose situation.

As of yesterday, a website promoting the boycott listed more than 200 vendors as having pulled out of the show. The show typically draws about 1,200 vendors. As of late yesterday, Reed Exhibitions had not responded to repeated requests for comment on the situation by various media outlets.

Organizations stating their intention to boycott included retail giant and show sponsor Cabela's, The NRA, GunBroker.com, Ruger Firearms, Savage Arms, Smith and Wesson, The Outdoors Channel, the Chambersburg-based Sportsmens Liquidation and the Marysville-based Pennsylvania Taxidermist Association just to name a few. Sportmens Liquidation stated that they had booked 130 booths.

The sole remaining sponsor listed on the show's website, Progressive, was "evaluating" its role as a sponsor in an email sent to media outlets. In it, they stated that, "Progressive's sponsorship strategy is not designed to make a political or social statement or to endorse or advance any political agenda or lifestyle; it's simply to sell insurance."

But, on the flip side, many small hunting related businesses make a large part of their yearly sales at this show. Many of which are outfitters who get a large number of their booked hunts from those who attend the show. Several vendors who were interviewed by media outlets predicted attendance will be down substantially, and further said Reed Exhibitions will be unable to rebuild credibility with outdoor enthusiasts, who will forever view the organization as weak on gun rights.

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