The annual Warren County Outdoor, Travel and Gun Show drew big crowds Saturday and Sunday to the Warren Mall, some of which spilled over into existing businesses in the mall.
John Papalia Jr., director of the Council on Tourism through the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry, said, "For sure, the numbers are well ahead of last year's. We are checking with the vendors to make sure they do well, and we're more than pleased."
Ralph Dussia, with Riverview Valley Surplus in Ridgway, said, "Ammo sales are brisk and gun sales are pretty good, too. We love coming here. John Papalia and his group really treat us good. And, by the way, I love that chocolate-covered bacon over at Stone Hill Chocolates."
Times Observer photos by Rob Andersen
In the photo at left, Troy McDunn of Warren ties a “Hangtime Minnow” pattern fly, designed for muskellunge. In the photo at right, Skip Eckert stands behind a rack of flintlock rifles built by Ron Luckenbill.
He said, "Everybody and his brother are looking for .22 caliber bullets," adding that he didn't have any.
Kent Sanden of Lander said that a sample of garlic dip from Wildtree natural food products was "awesome." The Wildtree booth was run by Jennifer Bliss and her father, Kevin Hall.
Hall said the show was "fantastic." Similar descriptions of the show came from just about everyone.
Richard Metzgar of the T-shirt Shack said, "Every year it gets better, it's a good show."
Two of the more popular vendors were Skip Eckert of Skippy's Guns and Horns and Ron Luckenbill, owner of Recreating History in Emporium, Pa. The two are gunsmiths specializing in building flintlock rifles with stocks ranging from straight, if not plain walnut to beautiful curly maple.
Eckert said the walnut is softer and easier to carve than the hard maple. He said that most of the guns they build are flintlock, because of the popularity in Pennsylvania due to muzzleloader deer season.
Luckenbill, who began his business in 1998, said he had recently completed his 256th gun.
Beverly Moore of Moore's Creations with Love in Warren was displaying oil candles made of rocks. "We do about ten shows a year, and most of our things are handmade," she said.
Bill's Cabin Trapping Supplies from Smethport was selling deer-hide gloves. "We've been very busy. We've never sold as many gloves before except maybe last year here," co-owner Sandy Ford exclaimed. This was their third year for the outdoor show.
In the four years Kirk Johnson of Friends of the Allegheny Wilderness has had a booth, he said this is the busiest year so far.
But vendors were not the only ones benefiting from the large numbers.
Tommie Clemente, son of the owner of Napoli Pizza in the mall, said the show "definitely brought in more inside business," adding that on a normal weekend, most of the restaurant's business was delivery.
"It feels like the 1980s," he added.
K-Mart saw more shoppers, as well. Debbie Lyon, assistant manager of the store, said that they had to call in more cashiers, as the checkout lines grew longer. "Sales are up. There is a lot of foot traffic helping us," she said.