It may be a hectic time of year (the Christmas countdown is into the single digits—yikes!), but it's still the perfect time for planning your family's trip to the 2017 Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS). GAOS is the world's largest consumer outdoor show, but it's so much more than that: It's also a terrific vacation adventure for your whole family. Here are our top five reasons that you should set aside a few tinsel-free minutes to make your preparations to visit Harrisburg, Pennsylvania this coming February 4-12.
1. It's impossible to be bored. Snow is fun and exciting in December, but by February you and your kids will no doubt be getting sick of it. Rather than spend another day in a video-game-playing slump, you'll be stretching your legs and your horizons inside the enormous Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, which is (blissfully) heated against the winter chill. Instead of squabbling among themselves or begging you for batteries to power their holiday gifts, your kids will be learning and playing in the Family Fun Zone. Instead of sighing over yet another spaghetti dinner, you'll be learning from a celebrity chef how to turn your fall whitetail harvest into a delicious meal. With over 650,000 square feet of exhibition hall space and more than 1,100 exhibitors, it's virtually impossible for you to see and experience everything without staying for multiple days...and it's totally impossible for anybody to get bored.
2. It's your chance to see the newest products for yourself. It's become a tradition within the outdoor world to premiere the latest and greatest new products in January at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. There's only one little problem: It's only open to people who work in the industry. We do our very best to make sure you hear all about the most exciting new products on the market, but GAOS is your first chance to see these new products in person, put your hands on them, and ask questions directly to the people who manufacture them. What's more, unlike the more traditional "gun shows" you may be used to, GAOS isn't limited to firearms and hunting equipment (although there's a whole huge hall dedicated to nothing else); you'll also find boats, ATVs, gear, clothing, knives, outfitters and vacation spots...really, just about anything outdoors that you can imagine.
3. The food and entertainment can't be beaten. First up, you'll really want to make sure you buy your NRA Country Concerttickets ahead of time—all previous years have sold out! In 2017, the concert will take place on Saturday, February 11 and will feature Dustin Lynch, Granger Smith and Tara Thompson. But once you've done that, you'll also want to ensure you leave plenty of time for the celebrity appearances, helpful seminars and exciting banquets that happen during the day and throughout each evening. You'll also want to make sure that everyone's stomachs are empty: The show offers a wide variety of delicious food, including local Pennsylvania specialties...and, we promise you, you'll be very sorry if you miss the local 4-H ice-cream shake stand. (This author personally knows someone who defies his chocolate allergy just once each year—to have one of those shakes. They're that good.)
4. There are hands-on activities for everyone in your family. No matter their age or experience level, there's hands-on stuff to try for everyone. Want to get some trigger time? Check out the Pyramyd Air Air Gun Range. For just a couple of dollars, you can plink to your heart's content with a wide variety of air guns and targets, all under the knowledgeable eyes and one-on-on coaching of our range officers. Are you more of an archery person? Test your mettle against some of the best in the country with the 3-D Bowhunter Challenge! Want to catch a real fish (and potentially win a prize)? Let your kids angle at the famous Trout Pond. What's more, individual exhibitors will offer all kinds of virtual shooting games and more...you just have to explore to see what's out there!