PRICKETTS FORT — The Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau will be filled with 18th century weapons and survival supplies the weekend of Feb. 26 through Feb. 28, for Prickett’s Fort State Park’s annual Firearms and Accoutrements Show.
Greg Bray, director of Prickett’s Fort, said that while the event is somewhat billed as a gun show, most of the people who attend the annual Historical Firearms and Accoutrements Show are history buffs or collectors, and they buy certain items to satisfy a specific purpose.
“You have three different types of people who buy,” Bray said. “You have reenactors that buy things to actually use like out at the fort or any other historic site. You have people that collect that type of art. You have people who are historical-minded that collect that type of art. You basically have three different types of buyers.”
After going months with a stripped down schedule of events due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prickett’s Fort will host this year’s show at the Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau where there is more space to hold guests and vendors than the Prickett’s Fort visitor center.
“There’s a little bit more space, we can distance a lot better and I can get more people in the building at a time,” Bray said. “That’s why we moved it out of the park this year. We are still under 25 people restriction for getting people into our visitors center, so we can distance and get a few more people in the CVB.”
CVB Director Leisha Elliott said events like this are a good draw for the county because it attracts people who may not normally visit Marion County. She said over the years, she has spoken with history buffs and enthusiasts from across the country who are looking for historical information on Marion County, and the Firearms and Accoutrements Show is a destination for a good number of them.
“It’s kind of a niche market,” Elliott said. “We’re always excited to have new people visit the Visitors Center so they can see all of the neat things we have here. We’re just excited that it’s an opportunity for an event to happen and to bring people to the area that maybe don’t normally visit Marion County.”
According to Bray, the show also attracts vendors from throughout West Virginia and surrounding states who attend for an opportunity to present and sell items they have collected or in most cases crafted. He is expecting 17 vendors at the show, and they will offer a variety of different crafts reminiscent of the 18th century.
“We get vendors clear from New York, all over West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia; we get them a little bit from every place coming in for this show,” Bray said. “It’s not only the weapons of the time period... gun builders will be there, they will be making flint locks, things like that. There’s a guy bringing books to sell dealing with 18th century Native American life, two guys selling hunting pouches, horn-related items.
“Just about all of it is handcrafted.”
Elliott said it’s great to be promoting a Prickett’s Fort event once again because the park normally brings in new visitors to the area. She also said the Firearms and Accoutrements Show normally kicks off a season of events at the park, so she hopes it will be the first of many.
“It’s always a nice event because it’s one of the first ones that happens in the new year,” Elliott said. “Because this area isn’t really necessarily a winter destination, it just gives an activity to kickstart the events that happen throughout the year, especially Prickett’s Fort.”
Bray believes the show can be enjoyed by a wide range of people, and it is not meant specifically for weapons enthusiasts. Even people who know next to nothing about firearms and accoutrements can get some knowledge by attending the show simply by speaking to the vendors, who Bray said, are all knowledgeable about their crafts.
“You can get a history lesson there by talking to the vendors because they all know their craft well,” Bray said. “We don’t really jury for this show, but we encourage people who have been doing this for a while... We try to get people that are well-versed in their craft.”
Doors open at the CVB at 1 p.m. Feb. 26, and the show will close at 3 p.m., Feb. 28. There is a $3 admission fee at the door, and more information on the event can be found on the park’s Facebook page or website.