Good times at the gun show

Vendor Tania Merritt stands behind her Big Horn Skulls booth Saturday afternoon at the Twin Bridges Gun Show. Merritt does custom artwork involving a chemical application of specific camouflage or graphic patterns, known as skins, to almost any hard surface imaginable. Photo by Ben Coulter

As summer fades into a distant memory many outdoor enthusiasts are looking to gear up for hunting season, and a few of them showed up at the Madison County Fairgrounds last weekend for the Twin Bridges Gun Show.

The twice-annual show drew a variety of vendors and spectators, some more serious than others. While some showed up to off load their own personal arsenal, swiping credit cards and displaying signs that boasted, “Guns sold only to right wing extremists!”, others simply wanted to display their collection of trinkets.

A collection of rifles and shotguns sits on display Saturday at the Madison County Fairgrounds during the Twin Bridges Gun Show. Photo by Ben Coulter

Some people came out looking for a new addition to their gun cabinet, but most people browsed through the tables, skimming over less than new firearms and glancing past antique collections of pocketknives.

One vendor leaned back against the wall, in no particular hurry to do anything but sit and let people look at his assortment of weapons.

“A lot of people come to look,” he said. “Some come to buy, some come to sell, some come to trade.”

Event volunteer Julie White stayed busy throughout the weekend, selling admission tickets at the front door and keeping an eye on her own vendor booth. For her, the best part of the gun show is, “just interacting with the customers coming through the door.”

“Some people are collectors, a lot of people just buy the guns for their personal use,” White said. “And then a lot of people don’t want the guns, they want the other stuff that’s in here.”

As with any community-oriented, garage-sale type of event, a variety of items could be found. In addition to collectible firearms, items for sale included a set of bunk beds, a DVD collection and a trophy-size pike mounted on a piece of driftwood.

Taxidermist Tania Merritt showed a collection of beetle-cleaned skulls and artwork at her vendor booth. Merritt sells custom-made camouflage skins that resemble a professionally airbrushed paint job and can be applied to almost anything. While the action at her booth may have been slow, she offered her thoughts on the event.

“I’ve only been doing this for a year now, and I see the same people at the gun shows,” Merritt said. “It’s kind of like a family itself.”

For her, the best part is “just meeting some of the local people that come in and like to BS and all that stuff,” she added. “It’s a lot of fun.”

While vendors worked hard at moving their wares out of their booths, at some point or another they all took a break to sit back and shoot the breeze among firearms fanatics. Although Tania Merritt anxiously waited for the next spectator to saunter by her booth, she used the down time to get to know other vendors set up nearby.

“Coming to the smaller communities like this, I think its way better than the bigger ones,” she said.

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