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COVID blamed for attendance dip at Olds gun, antique show

Hand sanitizer, face masks, face shields were everywhere
mvtGun, antique show-1
Visitors check out wares on display during the sixth annual Olds Gun & Antique Show, held Aug. 15 and 16 at the Big Rack Rentals Cow Palace Event Centre. Doug Collie/MVP Staff

OLDS — The sixth annual Olds Gun & Antique Show was a success, despite the fact attendance was down from last year, manager Linda Toews says.

The show, held Aug. 15 and 16 at the Big Rack Rentals Cow Palace Event Centre, drew about 900 people, Toews estimates. In previous years, it has attracted more than 1,000 people.

In addition to guns, ammunition and hunting accessories, the show also featured knives and a wide variety of antiques and collectibles.

A portion of the proceeds from the event went to three not-for-profit groups: Olds & District Special Olympics, Wild Rose Go Getters Women’s Institute and Keystone Youth Theatre.

Toews believes attendance was down this year due to COVID-19. She said until now, attendance at the show has climbed every year.

This year though, the emphasis was on COVID-19 protocols.

She also pointed out more room had to be created this year to enable social distancing.

“We wanted to make sure that everybody was as safe as they could be. We respected social distancing,” Toews said during an interview.

“Everybody had sanitizer. Of course, they were sanitized when they came in. Every vendor had sanitizer at their table and we did ask everybody to wear face coverings,” she added.

“It’s just like going into a store or whatever where you need to wear a face covering.

People were very happy to be able to come out and see the gun and antique show and most people were very happy to cooperate and to wear a face covering.”

Toews said organizers were prepared for a lower turnout this year due to the pandemic.

“There’s lots of people who are staying home and isolating and of course, we knew those people wouldn’t be able to come,” she said.

Although more space was made available for social distancing, those who did come saw some new exhibits this year.

Toews said 10 to 15 per cent of the vendors were new to the show and there were more exhibitors from B.C. and Saskatchewan than during previous editions.

“I actually had a waiting list of people (vendors) who wanted to come but couldn’t because of the need for social distancing,” Toews said.

She said there “absolutely” will be another edition of the gun and antique show next year.