Harrisburg show a must for sportsmen


Are you tired of the cold, wintry weather?

Are you sick of staring at the walls of your house?

If so, you’ve got a shot at something fun. You can warm your soul at the Great American Outdoors Show in Harrisburg. If you can't find something at this show that will get you out of the winter doldrums, you're not looking.

This enormous show, which starts Saturday and runs through February 14, offers something for anybody who enjoys the outdoors. There will be vendors from all of the major equipment manufacturers from the hunting, fishing and camping industry, plus hunting outfitters and charter boats from every imaginable place.

Nearly 1,000 exhibitors come from all around the United States and the world will share their products with the tens of thousands of visitors who browse the Expo each year.

With outfitters and guides flying in from South America, Africa and Europe, exhibitors truly come from all over the world to pitch their products at the show. Almost every continent will be represented.

Because there are so many exhibitors to choose from, the show is one of the best places to book a hunting or fishing trip. If you’ve ever gone on one of these trips, you know it's important to become familiar with a captain or outfitter before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the adventure. That’s a great benefit of the show. By walking the aisles, you can talk directly with the person that will be in charge of your trip. It may save you from a nasty surprise when you finally make it to your destination.

While hunting lodges and fishing charters comprise a good portion of the show, there are plenty of other things to see and do. Many folks go to the show just to participate in the dozens of seminars offered each day. With topics ranging from bow hunting for trophy deer to techniques for catching small-mouth bass, just one of these information-packed seminars is well worth the $13 admission fee. For visitors with a competitive side, there are more than a dozen contests, ranging from antler measuring to archery challenges.

One drawback to the huge show is the enormous crowd that it draws. Parking becomes a major hassle during both weekends of the show and late in the afternoons through the week.  Once you find a place to park, expect to wait in line to purchase your tickets. You can save yourself some time by purchasing tickets online before traveling to the show. Either way, be prepared to spend a full day at the show if you want to see everything that it has to offer.

The average visitor spends approximately four hours at the show. That’s not enough. To thoroughly soak in everything the show has to offer and get the very most for your entrance fee you’ll want to get there early and stay late.

Even if you don't buy anything, at least you found a way to escape winter for a few hours.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.