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News Gun Shows turning into a popular event in Macon County

Locals and visitors alike filled the community building this past weekend to browse firearms, knives, and other items. Gun shows like this one are becoming more and more popular in western North Carolina. Photos by Margaret HardenThe Macon County Community Building once again hosted the Franklin Gun Show. Travelers who used Highway 441 to enter into Franklin likely ran into the lines of cars ready to find a parking place in the area. Despite the traffic, Ron Haven of Gem Capitol Shows doesn't think the turnout was what it had been in the past.

“I don't think there were as many people at this show as there usually is,” said Haven. “It was still a good show, but I don't think it was as good as the last one we had. It's actually something that has been affecting a lot of the shows lately. I was talking to a promoter out of Asheville recently and he was saying that his attendance was down also.”

At most times of operation on Saturday and Sunday, the gym floor was covered by a sea of people. The outer areas of the floor were lined with dealer tables and rows that ran across the middle, leaving paths to easily navigate from seller to seller, creating a steady flow of potential customers for the dealers and vendors, which according to organizers, were at full capacity. The event also utilized three additional rooms in the building along with the gym floor, with plenty of room for vendors, gun enthusiasts, and people who just wantted to see what they might be able to find. Aside from firearms, those browsing could find knives, rations, first-aid kits, t-shirts, pocket watches and literature among other things. The guns on display ranged from antique collectible rifles to brand-new, ready to use pistols and shotguns.

People flocked from the surrounding states to look, buy and sell. According to Haven, he had vendors at the show that came from the Charlotte area, Athens, Ga., Gainsville, Ga., Knoxville, Tenn., and even parts of Alabama.

“They come from all around but we have vendors that come from right here in Macon County, too,” he said. “I can't give you an exact number, but I'd say we had more than 75 vendors at this past weekend's show.”

There were 135 tables rented out, but many vendors take multiple tables to use for their display. Back in May, one vendor rented out 15 tables, but usually if a vendor takes multiple display tables, it will likely be three to five.

The economic impacts of the gun shows are usually felt beyond the walls of the community building with a spike in spending at local businesses. Haven, who has hosted the show for the past eight years, also owns some motels in the area said that he noticed an influx in the traffic seeking lodging.

“There is definitely a positive impact on the county's economy as a result of people coming into the show,” he said. “They come into Franklin and they have to eat. They shop at the local businesses. They come in and what it comes down to is that they spend money.”

Another gun show being promoted by Gem Capitol Shows will take place this weekend in North Wilksboro, N.C. On Dec. 7 and 8, there will be a show in Andrews, N.C. and on Jan. 25 and 26, 2014, the gun show will return to the Macon County Community Building in Franklin.

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