Two weeks after a ” very disappointing” turnout for the BC Rod and Gun Show, organizers said that if the show returns in 2017, it will do so under a new name.
It was announced Tuesday that the show would be renamed the Cloverdale Hunting and Fishing Show – removing the word ‘gun’ from the title.
“There’s a sensitivity to the word ‘gun’ – it has a stigma attached to it,” event manager Steve Bednash told Peace Arch News Wednesday. “We look at them as firearms – as tools – but a lot of people are afraid of them. Hopefully, the (name) change helps, but a lot of it, too, is the show is just evolving.”
This month’s show, which was held April 15-17 at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, was nearly cancelled last month after originally failing to receive permit-approval from Surrey council. At the time, council members cited concerns over the lack of a proper security plan and the presence of handguns and ammunition at the show, while Mayor Linda Hepner also took issue with the name.
“If it’s a sportsman show or an outdoorsman show, why don’t you call it that? Why do you call it ‘Rod and Gun?'” she asked at the time.
After complying with the City of Surrey’s conditions – that ammunition and antique handguns be cut from the show – the show received its temporary-use permit at an April 11 council meeting, less than a week before the show was set to open.
In announcing the name change in a news release this week, the president of Clover Ventures apologized for organizational problems.
“We apologize to the City of Surrey for our delay in providing a professional security plan, that ultimately caused a lot of confusion,” writes Kent Archibald on behalf of the show’s organizers.
Bednash noted that while final numbers were still being tallied, attendance numbers were “ridiculously low, compared to where we expected for our second year.”
And while the name change “softens it,” Bednash said a return to the show’s 2015 format – which included ammunition and antique handguns – is necessary in order for the show to be successful. He attributed this year’s low turnout to the sudden cancellation of those aspects of the show, as well as general confusion in the community about whether or not the show was cancelled.
“There were a lot of people who were very disappointed with all the restrictions we had. We had people boycotting the show (as a result) and we had others who told us they thought the show was cancelled,” he said. “Even the first headline in the paper was ‘Surrey shoots down gun show.'”
Bednash’s comments echoed those in the official release, which stated “it is believed that some elements of the previous show need to be restored to ensure financial stability. We would like to work with the City of Surrey well in advance to provide a safe, educational and family-friendly event.”