America's First Freedom - April 2014 - 48

Kyle Weaver (left), NRA executive director of General
Operations, enjoys some time at the show with Dauphin
County Commission Chairman Jeff Haste.

"We wanted
to ensure the
show kept
its history
and integrity
of being an
outdoors show."
it stayed in Harrisburg and continued to be the outdoor show it should be for all
outdoors men and women."
Weaver was well aware of the financial damage the cancellation would have
on the area economy. But he also knew that the damage went far beyond the
financial realm.
"To me, the show is a generational history," Weaver said. "When you talk to
people at the show, they'll say, 'My dad brought me here,' or 'My grandpa brought
me here.' It's not just an outdoors show. There's a huge heritage and history that
was just as important as the financial loss."
Once the nra was selected to produce the show, Weaver and his crew from
nra-go rolled up their sleeves and went to work. But they were already several
months behind on planning, and they were starting from scratch with a brand
new show.
"The challenge we had going into the show is we started at zero on everything,"
Weaver said. "We had nothing sold-nothing done-and we were four months
behind. So we had to do probably twice as much work to get caught up.
"We had 15 or 20 staff working full time on it for five months just to get the
doors open. It's just a tremendous undertaking."
But to Weaver and other nra leaders, it was well worth the effort. After all,
they had some specific goals set for the show, and they knew that those goals
were important.
"We wanted to ensure the show kept its history and integrity of being an
outdoors show," he said. "Plus, it was a great place for us to showcase the other
side of nra-to show there's a home for all outdoorsmen and women in nra.
That was important to us."
The list of changes nra made from past shows was an extensive one, all made
with one thought in mind-producing the very best outdoors show possible.
"We lowered the price to get into the show, lowered the price for vendors,
invested a tremendous amount of money in trying to improve the parking,"
Weaver said. "We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to make the show
the best it could be.
"In addition, we selected vendors within the list, ensuring it stayed very
outdoors-oriented. We even widened the aisles and gave up some floor space so
people could get around more easily. Everything we did was to make a better
experience for vendors and those who attended the show."
46

America's

1

st

Freedom

|

April 2014

A Picture Of Success

The rest, as they say, is history.
When the doors opened on Feb. 1,
the crowds were incredible. Even
Gov. Tom Corbett showed up-not
surprising in a state that sells more
hunting licenses than any other in
the nation.
Attendees spoke by the volume
of tickets they purchased. Crowds
remained large throughout the entire
nine-day show, despite very bad
weather in the area.
"Based on what the city is telling
us, it was larger than it had ever
been," Weaver said. "And based on the
feedback we got from attendees and
vendors, everyone I talked to said this
is the best the show has ever been.
"All those changes that we made,
they were noticed by people and we
were thanked for doing them. If you
walked around there and had an nra
staff badge on, people would come
up and say, 'Thank you for saving
the show.'"
Both attendees and exhibitors were
glad to see the show back. For most
exhibitors, it's the largest consumer
outdoors show they attend all year.
"It's a very important show to our
company," said David Miles, director
of marketing for popular gun maker
Mossberg & Sons, Inc. Miles and

Continued on page 55



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - April 2014

America's First Freedom - April 2014 - 1
America's First Freedom - April 2014 - 2
America's First Freedom - April 2014 - 3
America's First Freedom - April 2014 - 4
America's First Freedom - April 2014 - 5
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