The National Rifle Association has a polarizing history with the American public, and so reactions from vendors of the former Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg were mixed Tuesday after the NRA announced it will take over in 2014.
Rick Harro of Enola makes and sells turkey calls for a living. He brought his business to the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg for the first time in 2012, but boycotted in 2013 when the show's producer, Reed Exhibitions, canceled due to the current national gun control debate.
"I don't know how many members there are of the NRA, but there's a lot," he said.
Harro said he's encouraged to hear the nation's largest gun lobby has purchased all rights to the show, and is optimistic the "outdoor" aspect will remain.
"I don't think it would come to that, but if it did -- I'd back out of it again," he said. "I wouldn't want it to just become a gun show. I've done gun shows, and I prefer not to do them so if they turned it into that, it's not for me."
ABC27 outdoor expert Kermit Henning said he believes the February event, renamed the Great American Outdoor Show, will remain family-friendly.
"I think the NRA is savvy enough to know that they have to serve the whole public, the whole outdoor community -- not just the gun owners," he said.
NRA president David Keene said Tuesday his organization has committed to a two-year agreement to run the show in Harrisburg. It will include a larger "celebrity" presence, as well as concerts, seminars and evening events throughout the week.
Keene said the NRA has already invested seven figures into the annual event, the first of which will run February 1-9, 2014.