LEWISTOWN - Since 2007, Abner Druckenmiller has looked forward to the first week of February.
But 2013 will be a little different.
The Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show's parent company, Reed Exhibitions, released a statement last week identifying the ban of certain products from the show - mainly sporting rifles that fall into the classification of assault rifles.
That started a firestorm of backlash against the show and now the company is seeing the repercussions.
More than 200 vendors have decided to boycott the event as of Wednesday, including Lewistown-based FOXPRO High Performance Game Calls, of which Druckenmiller is the marketing manager. Druckenmiller is also a host on FoxPro's Furtakers TV, which airs on The Outdoor Channel.
This year, Druckenmiller and the FoxPro staff won't be attending the show that puts a million visitors through its gates in a nine-day period. And the avid hunter summed it up pretty clearly.
"It's unfortunate," Druckenmiller said. "The circumstances are tough for us to make a decision. I was going to do four seminars. I really enjoy doing that."
FOXPRO released its own statement after deciding to pull out of the show. Since 1993, FOXPRO has been one of the world leaders in electronic game calls. With its booming business, things have started to go to the television side of the industry.
"The recent news and decision by Reed Exhibitions and the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show to refrain from the sales of modern firearms and accessories is disheartening and regrettable to hear," FOXPRO said in a statement released Monday. "We are very disappointed in their decision and even though we would wish them to repeal their decision we feel that much damage has been done. The ramifications of their decision impacts many attendees and hundreds of exhibitors that have supported this event for many years."
FOXPRO is located only about an hour from Harrisburg - the show is held at the Farm Show Complex - which is why Druckenmiller gets excited to head down the road and interact with his fans. And with FOXPRO being a sizeable company, this decision to not attend will not put them out of business.
But as Druckenmiller said, "It's actually a source of income for some of the vendors. They rely on that show to support their family. They have to survive."
Druckenmiller was supposed to speak four times throughout the nine-day event. But the backlash of the statement released by the show left many celebrity speakers with a decision to make. But it doesn't look like it was an hard one.
Some of the most notable speakers that will not be attending are: Jim and Eva Shockey, Tiffany and Lee Lakosky, Jimmy Primos, Michael Waddell, Trent Cole, Greg Zipadelli. Thirty-two speakers have pulled out as of Wednesday morning, according to My Eastern Outdoors, a vendor that is maintaining a list, one that said it left a 6,500-square-foot hole on the show floor by pulling out. And at least 207 vendors have pulled out.
And it's not about going to the show and making money for most of these vendors and celebrities, it's about the interaction.
"It's something that the whole industry looks forward to," Druckenmiller said. "They interact with their consumers. They can get to them, face-to-face, and ask questions. Now, we won't be able to do that."
This won't stop Druckenmiller and the FOXPRO team. They'll be heading to the 31st Annual Jaffa Shrine Sports Show Feb. 23 in Altoona.
As of right now, the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show is scheduled as planned and kicks off Feb. 2 at the Farm Show Complex.