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Annual gun show a social experience for many(AK)
frontiersman.com ^ | 10 March 2012 | GREG JOHNSON

Posted on 03/12/2012 10:33:31 AM PDT by marktwain

PALMER — It takes a high-caliber weapon to turn heads at the annual Palmer Lions Club Gun Show, like Doug Albright’s Browning M2 .50-caliber machine gun.

The Fairbanks resident had the fully functional weapon mounted on two-by-fours at his booth. Albright isn’t selling the gun, but said it’s a great conversation piece and a way to draw show-goers to his table to see what else he has to offer.

“Oh, it works,” he said. “I’ve shot up old cars with it before, cast-iron boilers, they’re good, too.”

It’s at Albright’s table, Anchorage resident Deryl Titus was found admiring the Browning.

“I hate to drool,” he said. “That catches my attention.”

And that’s the catch, Titus said. With Raven Hall at the Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer packed with dealers and individuals selling all types and styles of weapons and ammunition, it takes something spectacular to stand out.

“You need something cool, something different, something that’s big and powerful, and this is it,” he said.

It’s also just a little more gun than what he’s looking for, Titus said.

“Well, I’m selling four rigs here today, and I’m looking for nothing in particular,” he said. “I’m just seeing what’s available and what I think I need next. I’m kind of looking for a different .45.”

That’s the story of many who attend the Palmer Lions Club show, said Lions member and show organizer Bob Morigeau. Some vendors are commercial, but many are individuals and collectors who may come and spend as much — or more — than they make.

For the Lions, it’s the thousands of show-goers who pay $5 a head to enter that adds up to a year of public service in the Valley, Morigeau said. As the club’s largest fundraiser of the year, proceeds from the show — which continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — fund many projects and initiatives.

“We have some scholarships we do, we do vision screenings for all the elementary school kids, we support all the local athletics — like football programs and basketball programs,” Morigeau said. “For eyeglasses, if someone’s needy and doesn’t have the money and qualifies, we’ll buy them basic eyeglasses. In the past, we’ve done the fence around ballfields.”

While many are looking to add to their gun and knife collections — or to get rid of a few extras — others like Palmer resident Andrew “Art” Drabek find the Lions Club show a worthwhile social event. A longtime Valley trapper, Drabek said he’s mostly retired now and has a couple tables at the show to try and thin out his collection of traps.

He said he has about 1,000, but brought only about 150 to show and sell on Saturday. That includes his giant Duke 16 model trap, a behemoth iron contraption that looks powerful enough to trap a small elephant.

“Well, that one’s just for show,” Drabek said. “It’s for big, big animals. It weighs 47 pounds and is three-and-a-half feet long. It’s just to look at, but these other ones here are two-and-a-half feet long and I use those to catch wolves.”

At the height of his trapping career, Drabek said he would have as many as 500 traps out at a time. It also takes a certain personality type to make a good trapper, he said.

“You have to be one with nature, you have to think like animals,” he said. “You have to get down on your knees and crawl around and see how they see. Most of the time, a good trapper won’t find dead animals on their line.”

That’s because a trapper has to be attentive and check traps frequently. If he doesn’t, more often than not something else will beat him to it.

“If you don’t, the other animals will come out and eat them, and that doesn’t do me any good as a trapper,” Drabek said.

Along with sharing stories about trapping around the Valley, Drabek also has an impressive array of fox pelts he “got up by Lake Louise.”

Like many who are regulars at guns shows around Southcentral, Titus said he usually comes just wanting to look around, “but I usually end up buying things and come home with a debt.”

Contact reporter Greg Johnson at greg.johnson@frontiersman.com or 352-2269.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Alaska
KEYWORDS: ak; banlist; gunshow; palmer
The animal rights fanatics have made nearly all trapping uneconomic.
1 posted on 03/12/2012 10:33:39 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

Freedom!!!!!!


2 posted on 03/12/2012 10:49:12 AM PDT by vpintheak (Occupy your Brain!)
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