Bernie Wentz, of Biglerville, right, helps  Kevin Kelly, of Dauphin, as he scores deer antlers at the Quality Deer Management (QMD) booth at the Eastern
Bernie Wentz, of Biglerville, right, helps Kevin Kelly, of Dauphin, as he scores deer antlers at the Quality Deer Management (QMD) booth at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in 2011. York Dispatch file photo

After a yearlong hiatus, a major outdoor show is returning to Harrisburg this weekend.

And with the National Rifle Association heading up the Great American Outdoor Show, there is little doubt that firearms and ammunition dealers will be welcomed with open arms at the Farm Show Complex when the show opens on Saturday.

The show is a return to what the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show once was, until it was marred with boycotts and indefinitely postponed last year.

Like its predecessor, the NRA event runs nine days from this Saturday to Saturday, Feb. 9, and will showcase outdoor gear aimed at anyone who enjoys the outdoor lifestyle.

Kyle Jillson, NRA spokesman, said organizers don't expect the lack of a show last year to affect attendance at this year.

"We received a lot of interest and expect a good turnout," he said.

End of an era: The NRA show replaces the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, billed as the largest outdoors show in the country, that came to an end after three decades.

Eastern's organizer, Reed Exhibitions, put a ban on displaying and selling assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines after the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left 20 students and six staff members dead. The gunman used a semiautomatic rifle during the rampage.

The ban in turn set off boycotts from exhibitors prompting Reed Exhibitions to postpone last year's show, but it was never rescheduled.

That's when the NRA, which claims that 900,000 of its 5 million members live within 300 miles of Harrisburg, stepped in to take over the show.

"We didn't agree with the changes that led to the boycott," Jillson said.

New offerings: The re-badged show will offer nearly everything once found at the Reed Exhibitions-produced show but will also include some new offerings.

A new shooting sports hall, which will expand the presence of firearms at the show, will feature local gun dealers and manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson, Colt, Remington and Beretta.

More than 1,000 exhibitors will fill the complex selling and showcasing everything from camping supplies to fishing rods and firearms to boats and everything in between. With the high number of exhibitors, organizers say the show will once again lay claim to being the largest outdoors show in the country.

Though the show will undoubtably be geared towards outdoors men and women, there are also activities in the family fun zone aimed at entertaining their children.

The show will also feature a number of appearances by celebrities, such as Ted Nugent and fishing legend Roland Martin, and concerts by country musicians.

More than 90 demonstrations and seminars on hunting and fishing, as well as self defense topics, will also take place over the course of the show.

"We're trying to create something that will give people something to do," Jillson said.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.