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Grand Forks Gun Show expected to draw up to 4,000 visitors

GRAND FORKS -- Firearms of all shapes, sizes, makes and models could be found, bought and sold at the Grand Forks Gun Show this weekend at the Alerus Center.The event, which has been organized by the Dakota Territory Gun Collectors Association fo...

GRAND FORKS - Firearms of all shapes, sizes, makes and models could be found, bought and sold at the Grand Forks Gun Show this weekend at the Alerus Center.
The event, which has been organized by the Dakota Territory Gun Collectors Association for nearly 30 years, was expecting up to 4,000 visitors to walk through the doors this Saturday and today, chairman Bill Braun said.
The event continues until 3 p.m. today. Tickets are $5 at the door.
“Grand Forks has always loved this show,” Braun said Saturday afternoon.
With more than 300 tables, Braun said there’s something for everyone, though vendors must sell gun-related items, or items involved in shooting sports or hunting.
With a variety of weapons as varied as a Baskins Robbins buffet, a gun enthusiast would have no trouble finding something to add to his or her collection, whether that’s a new hunting rifle or a handgun to keep inside a purse. It was all there.
And Braun said purchases could be made right there in the event hall.
“It’s the same purchasing process as Scheels,” Braun said. “We’ve got Wi-Fi in here. They’ll do a background check right here right now and that’ll decide if you can have a gun.”
Braun said the DTCA hosts 14 shows around the region and the proceeds go towards promoting youth shooting sports.
“Once you’ve lost the youth, you’ve lost everything,” he said.
The Forks Friends of the National Rifle Association agreed and set up a booth at the show to sell tickets to their upcoming banquet. Those proceeds also will go towards local youth shooting sports, member Gordy Linnell said.
Linnell, owner of Northern Rifle Accurizing in Grand Forks, said the Forks Friends of NRA raised $106,000 in its 24th year for local shooting sports. Linnell said he was hopeful for another good turnout at this weekend’s show.
“We’ve had a lot of people through here today,” he said.
With a blast from the past, gun builder Dale Haake, a former Grand Forks resident who now lives in Fargo, displayed several handmade Pennsylvania long rifles.
Haake built his first rifle in 1974 and now travels to nine shows a year showing off his craft. This weekend, he had three rifles handbuilt from the ground up, including an exact replica of a John Philip Beck rifle originally built in 1790.
“It’s just a hobby,” he said of his craft, though he takes it very seriously. The Beck rifle, Haake estimates, “took me about 2½ winters” to construct.
He said he loves the crowds at gun shows and is happy to share his knowledge.
“It’s why I do,” he said. “I will definitely share with them what I know.”
More than just guns
But there was more than just guns at this weekend’s show. Roaming around the Alerus Center, one could find an old leather baseball mitt for $2 or a slingshot with an animal’s face carved into it for $8 (or $5 if you looked around). A copy of Don Quixote sat in a crate among old gun manuals while a VHS copy of “Wyatt Earp” starring Kevin Costner lay untouched, still wrapped in plastic.
The weird and unusual is Jim Stargel’s specialty. He travels to craft and gun shows all over the region.
Stargel, a native of Nashua, Minn., and a licensed fur dealer, had gloves, animal skulls, beaded bracelets with magnetic clasps and a wide variety of animal furs he personally processed.
“I guess I feel that I have something for everyone,” Stargel said. “This stuff makes good Christmas gifts.”
His hot-ticket items were fur hats, which nearly looked like the animal would be sitting on top of a customer’s head. Stargel said they may look a bit over-the-top, but they sell quite well.
“I’m selling something that nobody really needs,” he said. “But they are pretty cool.”

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