PORT JERVIS - It’s back. And it’s bigger and better than last year. The Sportsmen’s Expo, site of the annual meeting of members of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA), will return to Riverside Park from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine. Admission is free.
Six months of planning by organizer Maria Mann, aka The Gun Lady, has produced a conglomerate of sports-related exhibits, demonstrations, and participatory events suited not just to sports and outdoor enthusiasts, but to families and children. “There is literally something for everyone to do,” said Mann.
She again enlisted the aid of logistics expert and retired Marine Corpsman Raymond G. Cooper, Mann said, to map out the layout of the site. And he did so with military precision.
“We’re using 100 percent of the park between the train tracks and the river,” said Dr. Cooper. Some 100 vendors - merchandise and food - will fill a good portion of that space, with many returning from last year, “only they’re booking double, sometimes triple display areas,” he said.
“Last year, they got their toes in the water,” said Cooper. “This year, they’re all in.”
A main attraction at the inaugural expo, the Hawg Trough mobile fish tank trucked from Wooster, Ohio, will return - only the tank will be double the size at 5,000 gallons, stocked with largemouth bass for throughout-the-day demonstrations of freshwater fishing.
For children over 8, said Mann, the Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Ulster County will provide an inflatable two-lane BB gun range, where instructors will teach safety rules and marksmanship, free of charge.
A family favorite throughout the tri-state area, Cowboy Larry’s Wild, Wild West troupe will present three shows, featuring bullwhips, guns, rope tricks, and tomahawk throwing.
Highlights of the second annual Sportsmen’s Expo, Mann said, will take place on the river. Michal Zakrezewski of Jet High Watersports is scheduled - “depending on water levels,” said Mann - to demonstrate the sport of hydroflying. Eran Druker will display the JetSurf, a motorized surfboard.
Jonathan Wood of the Raptor Project will present three 30-minute shows displaying the largest traveling display of birds of prey in the world.
The 147th annual meeting of NYSRPA members coincides with Armed Forces Day, and Mann has received approval for support from the Color Guard of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve during opening ceremonies at 11 a.m. Port Jervis High School freshman Regina Creegan will sing the national anthem at the commencement of the exposition. The rock/country Oxford Station Band will perform on the pavilion stage.
At last year’s Expo, Mann logged just under 14 miles on her Fitbit, walking the park, checking on vendors and events. It was well worth her efforts, she said. “It brought business and recognition to Port Jervis in a big way.”
Programs listing event schedules will be available at Riverside Park.