The South Hot Springs Lions Club semi-annual Gun & Knife Show, set for Saturday and Sunday at the Hot Springs Convention Center, has sold out all its tables for its first event of the year despite the ongoing pandemic concerns.
"We have a little over 100 vendors, and that's going to give us about 380 tables," Steve Yach, show chairman, said.
"This year it looks like we have all our tables sold out this time, although it comes and goes as we get closer," he said.
While most of the vendors will be selling guns and knives, Yach said there are a few vendors offering other things.
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"A little bit off to the side, we have someone coming who's going to have guns and knives, but also has trees, for people who are planting fruit trees for hunting areas to bring in their game or develop their land," he said.
With COVID-19 still an issue, Yach said he isn't certain how it will affect turnout for the show.
"It's always hard to tell, our last show was a little down (about 2,000) because of some of the COVID results. The show before that was our record show (about 3,000)," Yach said. "I guess we are hoping for as good a turnout as we can get."
Yach said convention center employees will be required to wear masks, but attendees and vendors will not.
"That's an optional thing. If you feel like you'd like to wear a mask, that's perfectly fine," he said. "If you don't want to, that's perfectly fine also."
To help with social distancing, Yach said the aisles are spaced out 12 feet from each other.
"We've widened our aisles, we have the sanitation stations all over," he said.
There will also be numerous raffle items, including a custom-made dagger created by local knife maker Claude Lambert, a spear gun donated by Charlie Scuba and gift cards to Buffalo Wild Wings, Yach said, noting they have "about $3,500 in free giveaways, usually for a $2 raffle prize."
He said they sell 700 to 800 raffle tickets during the show, and give away "probably 40-50 prizes."
Money raised at the event will be used in a variety of charitable ways such as helping people with eyesight issues.
"We do eye care for anyone in the area, and I want to stress this, that you should contact us if you need it. We also help anyone who can't afford glasses," Yach said. "If you're in need, we will pay for the eye exam, we will pay for your glasses, and we are glad to do that."
The rest of the money they raise, "most of it stays local -- we do a little bit for the Lion's Eyesight International -- but the rest of it is all done (at) places like Jackson House, Potters Clay, the Sheriff's Boys Ranch, Salvation Army, Ouachita Children's Center."
Admission for those 13 and older is $10, which covers both days. Those 12 and younger get in free with a paid adult. The show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
According to a news release about the event from the Lions Club, there will be a large selection of modern and antique firearms of all kinds, ammunition, custom knives, swords, accessories, reloading supplies, scopes and binoculars, knives sharpened, and a "large selection of informative literature."
"For over 37 years, the South Hot Springs Lions Club has been sponsoring the show twice a year since 1985 with all the proceeds are used in Lions Club sight conservation and other community projects," including Arkansas Sheriff's Youth Ranch, Boys State, Girls State, Caring Place, Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic, Garland County Historical Society, Habitat for Humanity, The Salvation Army, Jackson House, Potters Clay, Boys & Girls Club, Samaritan Ministries, Hospice Foundation, Ouachita Children's Home, Cobra EAST, Project HOPE Food Bank, and three nursing scholarships at National Park College.
Lions Club members "contribute their time and efforts 100%." In the past 36 years, South Hot Springs Lions Club has donated over $750,000 to local charities from the moneys derived from the gun and knife shows, the release said.
Donations of eyeglasses will be accepted at the event for recycling.