HARRISBURG, Pa. — The producers of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, a longstanding tradition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center dating back to 1951, announced Thursday that the event was being postponed due to the controversy surrounding its decision to limit the sale or display of modern sporting rifles at the event.
Tourism officials at the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau estimate the postponement of the state's largest outdoor sports show means $44 million in direct spending from vendors and attendees and $80 million in lost revenue for the local economy.
The 22 hotels offering special room rate agreements for show vendors and attendees say the event accounted for approximately 12,000 room-nights over a 10-day period in a traditionally slow tourism season for a region that welcomes 10 million visitors annually.
Tourism officials claim the estimated loss is conservative, factoring in only the direct and indirect spending for the 1,000 vendors and anticipated 250,000 attendees.
“Reported numbers do not account for lost revenue at the event complex from parking, food and beverage, and service and rental fees,” said Mary Smith, president of the bureau.
The bureau did not have details on the lost revenue at the complex but Smith said it would be in the millions considering the scale of this event compared to other shows at the complex. The estimates also do not account for lost revenue from the 5 percent hotel tax collected by Dauphin County.
Officials are not commenting on the producer’s postponement decision, nor are they aware at this time what Reed Exhibitions plans are for rescheduling.
“Our relationship with Reed Exhibitions has continued to strengthen and grow over the years and we are hopeful that the show will return,” said Sharon Altland, the bureau’s director of sales. “This is the largest privately produced show at the complex considering the PA Farm Show is a state-organized event. Those two events have become pillars of our January and February tourism business with local businesses relying on them to make first-quarter numbers.”