Skip to comments.Annual gun show a social experience for many(AK)
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 Albrights Browning M2 .50-caliber machine gun.
The Fairbanks resident had the fully functional weapon mounted on two-by-fours at his booth. Albright isnt selling the gun, but said its 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. Ive shot up old cars with it before, cast-iron boilers, theyre good, too.
Its at Albrights table, Anchorage resident Deryl Titus was found admiring the Browning.
I hate to drool, he said. That catches my attention.
And thats 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 thats big and powerful, and this is it, he said.
Its also just a little more gun than what hes looking for, Titus said.
Well, Im selling four rigs here today, and Im looking for nothing in particular, he said. Im just seeing whats available and what I think I need next. Im kind of looking for a different .45.
Thats 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, its 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 clubs 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 someones needy and doesnt have the money and qualifies, well buy them basic eyeglasses. In the past, weve 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 hes 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 ones just for show, Drabek said. Its for big, big animals. It weighs 47 pounds and is three-and-a-half feet long. Its 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 wont find dead animals on their line.
Thats because a trapper has to be attentive and check traps frequently. If he doesnt, more often than not something else will beat him to it.
If you dont, the other animals will come out and eat them, and that doesnt 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-2269.