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Massena Arena holding Sportsmen’s Expo this weekend

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MASSENA — In another sign that spring is in the air, the ice has been removed from the Massena Arena and the Massena Rod and Gun Club has moved in for its Sportsmen’s Expo today and Sunday.

John Hurd, club secretary and one of the event organizers, said 78 vendors will be on hand this year.

“It’ll be full,” he said Friday as vendors set up their booths in preparation for the show.

Some vendors are local and others have come from as far as Newfoundland. One is an ammunition and gun dealer from Kinderhook; another is a gun dealer from Tupper Lake.

“Over 50 percent of the vendors are local. It keeps the money here in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties,” Carolyn Dowdle, clubhouse attendant for the Rod and Gun Club, said.

While some are regulars, attending the show year after year, there will be 16 new vendors this year, Ms. Dowdle said. Some of them hear about the Expo through word of mouth, while others receive emails and phone calls inviting them to join in, according to Mr. Hurd.

“A lot of us travel to different shows, some in Watertown, some in Syracuse,” he said.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty for their liking, from hunting, archery and camping, to trapping, firearms, fishing items and recreational vehicles. The St. Lawrence County Pistol Permit Bureau will be on hand to take applications for permits, passports and driver’s licenses.

But it’s more than just sportsman’s items on the arena floor, Ms. Dowdle said.

“For the ladies there’s jewelry, homemade soap, maple syrup, candles and quilts and pillows,” she said.

“It’s kind of a family affair,” Mr. Hurd said.

“We want to get away from the reputation of being a sportsman show,” Ms. Dowdle added, noting her son, Matthew, will have paintball at the end of the arena, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Make A Wish Foundation.

The Massena Rod and Gun Club has held the show for approximately 35 years, Mr. Hurd said.

“It’s our largest fundraiser,” Ms. Dowdle said.

The club is expecting about 2,000 visitors for this year’s show, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 16 and under, and free for children under 5.

There will be a food booth with items such as hamburgers, hot dogs, Italian sausage and fresh-cut fries.

The booth will be manned by volunteers from the Rod and Gun Club and students from the Massena High School Rifle Team.

It’s an event that goes into planning stage before it’s even over. Ms. Dowdle said on the second day of the show they take deposits for booths at the following year’s show. That way, she said, vendors lock in the same price.

Mr. Hurd said the Sportsmen’s Expo wouldn’t be possible without the support of volunteers.

“People volunteer to put it together,” he said.

“We can’t do it without volunteers. They use pickup trucks and their time and energy,” Ms. Dowdle said.

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