The 2013 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show has been postponed indefinitely.
Reed Exhibitions, which organizes the show, says it made the decision after controversy surrounding its decision to limit the sale or display of military style assault weapons and high capacity magazines and clips. As of Wednesday, over 200 vendors had pulled out of the show. A Facebook page dedicated to boycotting the show currently has over 18,000 fans.
In a statement, Reed Exhibitions said the decision came after it became clear the event would no longer be able to provide the family enjoyment it was meant to.
“It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this celebratory event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing,” wrote Chet Burchett, Reed 's President for the Americas, in a statement.
In a statement, Gov. Tom Corbett said that while the postponement of the show is a private business decision made by Reed Exhibitions, it is still a loss for the region.
“The Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show has had a large impact on Harrisburg's economy for years, drawing thousands of people to the area. It is a loss for the region and the many businesses that depend on the revenue it generates,” Corbett wrote.
The show was scheduled to take place February 2-10 at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
The full statement from Reed Exhibitions is below:
“Our original decision not to include certain products in the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show this year was made in order to preserve the event's historical focus on the hunting and fishing traditions enjoyed by American families,” said Chet Burchett, Reed Exhibitions President for the Americas. “In the current climate, we felt that the presence of MSRs would distract from the theme of hunting and fishing, disrupting the broader experience of our guests. This was intended simply as a product decision, of the type event organizers need to make every day.
“It has become very clear to us after speaking with our customers that the event could not be held because the atmosphere of this year's show would not be conducive to an event that is designed to provide family enjoyment. It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this celebratory event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing.
“ESS has long been proud to participate in the preservation and promotion of hunting and fishing traditions, and we hope that as the national debate clarifies, we will have an opportunity to consider rescheduling the event when the time is right to focus on the themes it celebrates.”