ESSEX JUNCTION — The Expo Center in Essex Junction will be taken over by 15,000 pro-gun advocates, hunters and nature enthusiasts Friday through Sunday to celebrate Vermont’s cherished outdoor heritage at the 26th Annual Yankee Sportsman Classic Show.
Nearly 200 exhibitors will be in attendance and catering to a variety of interests, such as firearms, outdoor recreational vehicles, beekeeping, wilderness survival and more. The weekend will include seminars held by acclaimed wildlife experts with helpful tips and tricks for successful hunting and fishing.
Kids are welcome to join the fun, too, with a wildlife petting farm, catch and release trout pond, archery and pellet gun shoot.
Frank Stanley, spokesman for the Yankee Sportsman Classic and a lobbyist for the Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association, said hunting and fishing is part of Vermont’s roots and traditions.
“We want to promote the environment, habitat and love of wildlife to the kids,” Stanley said. “Being a sportsman and fisherman and being in that family is important. That’s why we work hard and continue to do this each year.”
Vermont relies on the $13 million in revenue that fish and game activity brings in annually, but a recent proposal to the Vermont Senate could possibly have a negative affect on revenue and those participating in outdoor sporting.
The universal background check law proposed to Senate, S.6, would require second-hand firearm sellers, like many at the expo, to run the names of the purchasers through a national database, closing a supposed “gun show loophole.”
Other proposals, including S.22, would allow law enforcement to confiscate someone’s firearm for up to a year if they are considered to be a “danger to others” in any kind of dispute.
Evan Hughes, vice president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, said these types of mandates, especially in Vermont, are “ineffective, intrusive and expensive.”
“There is a small contingent of legislators who are constantly pushing any kind of gun control item that they can identify,” Hughes said. “We have a fantastic gun safety record in Vermont, so what these folks are pursuing is a political problem that doesn’t exist.”
Hughes said many of these gun control proposals are modeled after New York City laws, which simply do not correlate with other cities or states for obvious reasons.
“They’re trying to pass into Vermont what exists in New York. If you compare the violent crime rate, Vermont is consistently the lowest violent crime rate state in the nation, per FBI statistics,” Hughes said.
He added that hunting is embedded in Vermont culture and is a crucial aspect of that way of life and mindless attempts at stricter gun control could threaten that.
“There are constant attacks on hunting in the state and it’s just going to be our folks protecting what’s theirs,” Hughes said.
Click here for schedules and admission information for the the 26th Annual Yankee Sportsman Classic Show.
Briana Bocelli is a freelance writer for True North Reports. She lives in the Northeast Kingdom and is a senior at Castleton University.