ALTONA - After the annual gun show at the Altona Volunteer Fire Department was canceled last year, partners Suzie Thaller and Jeff Rabideau started their own gun show. Now, they're it expanding even further.
The gun show, held in the fall and hosted by Rabideau's business, JL & Sons, focused mainly on guns, with some "extras thrown in," explained Thaller. However, now the two are working on having a somewhat different kind of show - the Altona Sportsman's Show.
The event - which will be held at the Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall's Gold Room, 47 Woods Falls Road, Saturday, March 13, and Sunday, March 14 - will feature more than 50 vendors, with more than 180 booths.
"You can't get out and do your yardwork yet," Thaller said. "There's really not a whole lot going on in March. It's good for the families to get out and there's something almost for everybody."
The vendors at the show will have items such as cabin decor, wildlife artwork, hunting and fishing gear, and firearms.
"We're hoping to get people that like the outdoors and outdoors' rustic view for their home, as well as the things they do for activities," explained Thaller.
Thaller, who is a wildlife artist herself, said this event is "edgier" than a craft fair, as there will be items such as leather gun slings, custom woven fishing reels, and fly casting rods - all of which Thaller and Rabideau plan to start carrying at JL & Sons as well.
"We can't compete with Gander [Mountain] and Dick's [Sporting Goods]," she said. "The only way we can do that is if we have some kind of specialty that draws people in. The shows and the shop kind of mirror each other with what we're doing."
Another important aspect of the show is all the vendors are local, coming from throughout the North Country and parts of Northern Vermont.
"It's hard to make it as a small business and it's hard to make it especially as an artisan," Thaller said. "I think the little businesses are the ones that are going to save the economy eventually."
Thaller noted many of the exhibitors were found with the help of Shane Dutil and his family, owners of D & D Meats in Sciota, locally famous for their Jeezum Crow Beef Jerky, which will be in the men's gift baskets raffled at the show.
For more information regarding the Altona Sportsman's Show, visit www.altonashows.com or call JL & Sons at 236-4934. The show will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 13, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, March 14.
General admission is $3. Children younger than age 10 will be admitted free.