Big crowd expected for popular Charleston Gun & Knife Show

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With gun and ammo shelves emptying across the Lowcountry and SEWE in town, the word is: Get there early for the Charleston Gun & Knife Show.

If you go

WHAT: Charleston Gun & Knife Show.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Exchange Park Fairgrounds, 9850 Hwy. 78, Ladson.

MORE INFO: gunshow trader.com/gun-shows/charleston-gun-show.

The popular show at the Ladson fairgrounds tends to draw about 4,000 people each year; this year it might draw as many as 6,000, said Mike Kent, whose company, Kent and Associates, puts on shows in the region.

Shows this year in Myrtle Beach and Asheville, N.C., have drawn about 50 percent larger crowds, he said. Lines that normally form about 8:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. opening are forming as early as 7:30 a.m.

The show isn’t deliberately scheduled the same weekend as the outdoor sports-based Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, he said.

But the standard show dates have coincided with the exposition for the past three or four years, and the show has drawn some people in town for the expo.

Firearm enthusiasts scratching for a particular weapon or ammunition have been telling each other to “camp out,” meaning be there early. But camping is not allowed at the fairgrounds, and that will be enforced, said Joe Bolchoz of the Exchange Club of Charleston, the fairgrounds owner.

As for handling an overflow crowd, no problem. The fairgrounds can provide parking for 10,000, Bolchoz said.

“We’ve dealt with this particular issue a number of times this year. We’re prepared for it,” Kent said. Extra staff and security will be brought in. Two ticket lines will be opened instead of the usual one.

Interest in the gun show has been swelling for weeks; firearm and shooting suppliers continue to struggle to keep up with demand spurred by calls for firearm restrictions in the wake of the mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December.

The shortage is driving customers to gun shows, where ammunition tends to be for sale in large quantities by the case or bulk bag rather than by the box. And the Charleston show, with more than 300 vendor tables and a wide selection of firearms and accessories, routinely draws a big crowd.

“That’s always the same,” Bolchoz said. “It’s a very popular show.”

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on Twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.

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