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Huge crowd expected at Expo, more hands-on events this year

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This weekend’s Covington Sportsman’s Expo will have more vendors and more hands-on activities than last year’s event, organizer Harold Barnes said.

And that’s exactly what he was aiming to do when he chose Covington County as a location

“The proper use of weapons is what will save our Second Amendment rights,” Barnes said. “We want to teach young people through hands-on education about safety and respect for outdoor activities. We also believe every woman, whether she hunts or not, should at least have the opportunity to learn how to defend herself if need be.”

For instance, there will be a Basic Handgun Familiarization Course for women presented by Andalusia Police Department. The course will be offered at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday, and women can actually shoot in the wooded area behind the arena, he said.

As recently as Friday, he said, Taurus came on as a sponsor, and is giving away a 9 mm pistol on the women’s handgun course.

“They called us,” he said. “I was told by Taurus yesterday we were one of only 10 they know of doing what we’re doing, letting people do hands-on training with pistols, handguns and rifles.

“We’re blessed to be able to do that,” he said.

“There’s no hunters safety course in the whole state allowing kids to shoot guns,” he said. “We’re offering hands-on learning versus a bunch of talk.”

Benelli, who is one of the sponsors and exhibitors, will allow Expo visitors to pay $1 for ammunition and try any shotgun on display before purchasing.

“Chuck is over the game wardens, and he’s coming himself to enlighten people about the changes,” Barnes said. “There are changes in the feeding of deer, and extending the season. He’s bringing 10,000 fliers.

“There are a lot of law officers saying they will write tickets anyway (despite changes),” Barnes said. “Sikes is their boss, the game wardens from our region will be here to hear him.”

The event is not just about guns, it’s about an outdoor lifestyle,” Barnes said. “We want people doing something other than playing video games. We want to get these people and educate them.”

The three-day event also includes appearances by

three popular TV stars from the History Channel’s “Swamp People” series, Troy Landry, his son Jacob and Bruce Mitchell and his dog Tyler.

Mitchell will headline on Friday beginning at 4 p.m., followed by a meet and greet at 4:45 p.m. until 9 p.m., he said.

Barnes said the Landrys will headline the event on Saturday, with a 45-minute onstage talk about their lives outside the show. Then, the two will hold a three-hour autograph session in the Covington Center Arena.

“We’re expecting a huge crowd,” Barnes said, adding that he gets dozens of phone calls and emails about the event daily.

“Yesterday I had 75 phone calls before noon.”

Tickets are $10 per person, and are available from CCB Community Bank and Brooks Hardware in Andalusia, as well as at the door.

For additional information, visit the event’s Web site at www.covingtonsportsmansexpo.com.