By Tyler Frantz
There are many reasons to attend the NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS), held February 3rd -11th at Harrisburg’s PA Farm Show Complex. After all, it is the largest consumer sports and outdoors show in the entire world, with close to 1,500 exhibitors, including hunting/fishing outfitters, outdoor celebrities, gear vendors, and nearly 200,000 attendees over nine days.
It is a wonderful place to browse for future outdoor getaways, learn about new gear advancements, attend informational seminars, and perhaps even catch a few hot deals. Not to mention, it’s also a prime way to beat the winter doldrums while celebrating one’s love of the outdoors with fellow like-minded individuals.
Beyond all this, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association (POWA) is once again giving GAOS attendees yet another reason to return for the show’s final day.
On Sunday, February 11th, from 1-3 p.m. in the Erie Room (above the Small Arena), POWA is sponsoring its 35th Annual Sportsman’s Auction to benefit youth educational opportunities. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised to date, and every penny has gone to educational programs that introduce youth to the outdoors.
ABC 27 News Outdoors Host and POWA Life Member Kermit Henning has served at the helm as auction chairman for most of the fundraiser’s longstanding history. He touts it as one of the show’s top “must attend” attractions for sportsmen.
“The POWA Sportsmen’s Auction truly has something for everyone,” Henning said. “For over three decades, the auction has offered a multitude of items for the sportsman – and all items are donated with no reserve.”
“Things like guided hunting and fishing trips to Canada and all over the states; fine art, including original art by award-winning artist Gerald Putt, other art by well-known and acclaimed artists like Ned Smith and Jack Paluh; outdoor hunting, fishing, and trapping gear; archery equipment; game calls; clothing; outdoor books and tapes; knives; and so much more are all included.”
“POWA members and Show donors generously donate most items, and one of the best highlights of the auction is a pistol donated by Kahr Arms of Greeley, Pennsylvania. If you are a sportsman planning to attend the show, I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t make it a priority to attend this incredible auction,” Henning said.
“To date, POWA has raised over $400,000 – all of which has gone directly to support youth educational programs in the outdoors. Programs like conservation camps, youth field days at sportsman’s clubs across the state; Camp Compass; fishing derbies by Capital City Bass Masters and inner-city recreation departments; Susquehanna River Waterfowlers youth hunts; black-powder shooting with Blue Ridge Rifles; Dauphin County Recreation; Envirothon; and so many more have benefited. It is all intended to bring young people outdoors,” Henning said.
“The youth education scholarships awarded by POWA are one of the hallmarks of our organization,” POWA President Brad Isles said. “We appreciate the generous donors who provide items for the raffle, the ever-willing bidders, and of course, we are grateful for the support given to us by the Great American Outdoor Show. Any opportunity to advance the efforts of getting kids involved in the outdoors is an important step in developing the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists.”
Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this year’s benefit auction at the Great American Outdoor Show. It’s a lot of fun, you can score some great new merchandise, and your money will be well spent for a terrific cause. There’s nothing more important than introducing youngsters to the outdoors.
For additional show info, please visit www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.
2016 POWA Education Fund Grant Recipients:
Blue Ridge Rifles
Capital City Bassmasters
Dauphin County Office of Parks and Recreation
Franklin County Sportsmen for Youth
Jefferson County Youth Field Day
Montgomery County Youth Field Day
Palmyra Sportsmen’s Association, Inc.
Perry County Sportsmen
Pennsylvania Institute of Conservation Education
Susquehanna River Wetlands