MASSENA - After 28 years the Massena Rod and Gun Club has developed a reputation for hosting one of the biggest little sportsman's expositions in the Northeast.
Vendors who attended the two day event this past weekend at the Massena Arena said it is not the size of the expo that keeps them coming back, but the enthusiastic north country sportsmen and women who come to check out their wares.
Robert E. Pultorak, owner of T.K. Charters in Oswego said the annual Massena Sportsman's Expo is the smallest trade show on the list he makes every year, but one of his most enjoyable.
"I do five shows in the northeast and this is the smallest show I do, but I really like coming up here because of the people, they are outdoors people," Mr. Pultorak said. "I've been coming to this show since 1994."
Mr. Pultorak said he charges $470 to charter a six-hour fishing excursion on Lake Ontario for a party of four people. He said his years of attending the Massena Sportsman's Expo have allowed him to build up a loyal customer base that returns year after year.
Mr. Pultorak said he charges $470 to charter a six-hour fishing excursion on Lake Ontario.
"The people up here like to hunt and fish, so it's been a good market for us since we are only three hours from Oswego," he said.
Ken Hammel, owner of Mountain Hollow Game Calls in Parishville said he too makes it to the Massena expo each year because it is close to home and the people homespun. His business makes custom duck and goose and other wildlife calls and operates across eight states, including Altoona, Pennsylvania where the company keeps a warehouse.
"This is a small show for us. We spent over $40,000 just to be at shows this year. And this show costs us just $200 to do. We're local and we come here because we like seeing the local people," Mr. Hammel said.
John R. Hurd, president of the Massena Rod and Gun Club, said there are 120 vendor spaces at the Massena Arena and that for the past 28 years outdoors businessmen like Mr. Pultorak and Mr. Hammel have helped make the event successful.
He said in the early years the expo focused just on hunting and fishing, but in recent years has grown to include companies that make and sell venison jerky, as well as jewelry, crafts and even quilts.
It's all part of an effort to diversify in hopes of getting more young people to become outdoor enthusiasts.
Proceeds from the expo help fund the rod and gun club in Louisville, as well as providing donations to area charities.
Loren Sochia said he came from Parishville to attend the event in hopes of networking with other All Terrain Vehicle riders. He said the Parishville ATV group he represents hopes to some day link a system of trails county-wide.
"This is a good place to meet people, to find other people like us," Mr. Sochia said.