Sponsored by the missions ministry of Tabernacle Baptist Church, the event included a banquet that provided a catered dinner from Colonel Poole Bar-B-Que. Jason Cruise of the Outdoor Ministry Network and producer of "Me and Dad" Outdoors TV show was one of two guest speakers. Cruise offered his testimony and his compilation for the Sportsman's Bible was offered as a prize during the giveaways that continued throughout the night. The Modern Day Robin Hood, Galen Shinkle, was also a guest speaker.
Steve McCombs, missions and singles pastor for Tabernacle Baptist stated that, "We feel that this is an avenue that will be distinctively Christian that will appeal to sportsmen who enjoy camping, fishing and hunting. The expo industry doesn't have anything in this area, so we thought it would be a good way to connect, sharing a Gospel message and appealing to outdoorsmen."
"We wanted to provide outreach to Christian outdoorsmen," said McCombs. Although this event is tailored to a specific group, the community was warmly invited to attend.
McCombs also stated that last year a similar event was held, but the crowd outgrew the church. This year, the group decided to utilize the conference center's size and more accessible location as a better venue for the exposition. A video played in the background as people walked through the ballroom, portraying hunting and fishing pictures from members as well as the church's mission. Josh Carpenter, church member and volunteer who is featured in the video, stated that last year's event consisted of a meal of wild game.
"As part of the missions and exposition committees we contacted around 60 vendors and we have 22 here," said Carpenter.
Vendors ranged from Wynn, Terry Reid and Chuck Clancy automotive groups to Eagle's Nest Sporting Camps, which is based out of New Brunswick, Canada. Most of the vendors showed their support by offering prizes for the giveaways as a donation and other items and trips at a discounted rate. Booths provided insight into the latest gear for fishing and hunting, including a variety of rods, guns and bows. Jamie Stanford of Eagle's Nest stated that "the church contacted the owner of the company and as a pastor he wanted to get involved." Stanford resides in Georgia and has only been selling trips through Eagle's Nest for approximately eight years.
Silent and open auctions were also available and included items such as decorative paintings, guns and hunting and fishing trips.
Outside, a designated safe area was set up so that visitors could practice their archery skills. Meanwhile, inside the ballroom, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources offered a lesson in hunter's safety through video shooting simulations. "These demonstrations allow people to practice with the weight and feel of a real gun," said Conservation Sgt. Mike Barr. "The firing pin has been removed and replaced with a laser but this is a real weapon for the kids to experience." Barr also stated that the department requires a course to be completed for anyone who desires a hunting license. The course is free and information can be found at www.gohuntgeorgia.com. "Today, kids are pulled in so many different directions with soccer, video games, computers and the like," said Barr. "Events like these emphasize the fun in the outdoor activities."
Brad Greene, who is not a member of Tabernacle Baptist, was contacted by a local pastor and attended the event, stating that these sorts of activities are a great way to reach others.
Participants purchased tickets listed at $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. All proceeds will be passed on to the Ric Mason and Perry Goad Missions Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance for people attending mission trips coordinated by Tabernacle Baptist.