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North country gears up for spring at the Sportman’s Expo in Massena


MASSENA — Guns, archery sets, camping gear, fishing poles, boats and plenty of camouflage had the Massena Arena looking like the inside of a Gander Mountain store this weekend during the 36th annual Massena Rod & Gun Club Sportsman’s Expo.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, people browsed and shopped throughout the arena for bargains that herald spring and warmer weather.

“Everyone knows when it’s Sportsman’s Expo time, it’s spring,” said Mark S. Billings, president of the Massena Rod & Gun Club.

He said Saturday the club was ahead of last year’s admission count. “If today goes well, we should exceed last year’s numbers,” he said.

Mr. Billings said this year the club tried to attract a larger variety of vendors, including homemade jewelry, soap, quilts and other crafts, to draw more women and people who are not necessarily interested in sporting goods.

“We try to make everybody happy,” he said.

Tracy A. Champion, Madrid, makes bracelets, necklaces, earrings and other jewelry. She said she’s been a vendor at the expo for three years, but Saturday was the best sales day she’s ever had at the expo.

“More women come each year because they know there will be more for them,” she said.

John R. Hurd, a member of the Massena Rod & Gun Club who coordinates the show each year, said the expo had 78 vendors.

It also included paintball for children, demonstrations by some crafters and stations to sign up for pistol permits, passports and fishing licenses.

“It’s the end of winter and people are finally able to get out,” he said.

The proceeds, including the $6 admission fee, will go to the club, he said.

Mr. Hurd and Carolyn A. Dowdle, an employee of the club, said this is the perfect time of year to hold the expo.

“It’s before they start the spring sports, before the boats hit the water,” Mrs. Dowdle said. “If we wait until after Easter, it’s too late.”

For some vendors, however, the time of year doesn’t matter.

James S. Masten, a gun dealer from North Creek, made the long drive to participate in the expo for the first time.

“I go to shows all year round, so I don’t really see a difference,” he said.

Board members of the Norfolk Rod & Gun Club also had a booth set up and sold memberships, gun raffles and bingo board tickets.

“Everyone has cabin fever and they just want to get out of the house,” said Stephen C. Davis, a board member of the Norfolk Rod & Gun Club.

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