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Sportsman’s Expo returns to Massena

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MASSENA — Lovers of the great outdoors filled the Massena Arena over the weekend for the 35th annual Massena Rod & Gun Club Sportsman’s Expo.

Hunting and fishing were on prominent display, with vendors peddling everything from smoked venison to all-terrain vehicles.

Club President Mark S. Billing usually has been busy running the club’s tables during previous shows, he said, but this year he finally was able to see everything it had to offer.

“This is the first year I’ve had a chance to go around and meet all the vendors,” he said.

The sound of turkeys filled the arena as Kenneth B. Hammell, Parishville, showed off the locally made Mountain Hollow Game Calls.

“This is the smallest show that we do, but we do it because we’re from the area,” Mr. Hammell said. Mountain Hollow Game Calls has been around for more than 30 years, and things are going well.

“Business is way up. We can’t even keep up with production right now,” Mr. Hammell said.

Area hunting and fishing enthusiasts, many clad in camouflage, wandered through the arena with their families and chatted with the vendors.

For children too young to buy a hunting knife or enter an auction for a new rifle, the show offered pony rides and a trip into a simulated mine.

“We have gems and minerals from all over the world,” said David E. Blakely of Syracuse, creator of the “Olde Erie Mine.”

Children could pan for fossils or don a headlamp or explore a trailer covered in fake stone to look like a pitch-black mine, complete with hidden minerals they could search for and keep.

“It’s like baseball cards; you never know what you’re going to get,” Mr. Blakely said.

The show is the year’s primary fundraiser for the Massena Rod & Gun Club. More than 1,700 people came Saturday, according to Mr. Billing, partially because of rainy skies.

“I’m not sorry about the nasty weather,” he said. “It drove people inside.”

Most of the vendors were local, but Paul C. Hellmann drove eight hours from Erie, Pa. His business, Someday Isle Tackle, sells fishing lures and jewelry made from lures.

This was his second time at the show, and he said it is great to come back and see how previous customers are doing.

“A lot of guys have your stuff already, and they can tell you what they’ve caught and what they haven’t. It’s good to see how your stuff is doing,” he said.

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