he sixth annual River Ridge Fish & Game Gun Show was held on June 8 and 9 at the Sylvia Fedoruk Centre in Canora. Vendors attended the show from across Saskatchewan, as well as from Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.
Kathy Thomas, president, River Ridge Fish & Game, said the event continues to draw strong interest from vendors and outdoor enthusiasts alike. She said the Sylvia Fedoruk Centre was full for the show, with 35 vendors and 112 tables.
“Since we charge admission, people who attend are usually here for a purpose, often to add to a collection,” said Thomas. “In addition to guns, vendors also are involved in outdoor-related areas of interest such as fishing, taxidermy and antler carving.”
Making the trip to Canora from De Winton, Alta., just outside Calgary, were Will and Donna Bilozir, owners of Bilozir Fine Guns.
The couple said they import guns from overseas. Their main focus is Italian guns, but they also do some business in Spain and Ireland.
“Since we import the guns directly, we can save our customers a considerable amount of money by pretty much eliminating the middleman,” said Donna. “That direct relationship with factories also allows us to do custom orders and fittings.”
Since hunters come in all shapes and sizes, they can have a gun specifically designed to fit to a person’s build. Specially designed models for left-handed shooters are available if needed.
In addition to guns, they also deal in shotgun reloading.
Will said this was their fourth time attending the Canora show, where they have found steady demand for their products and services.
“We’ve made good sales at this event,” he said. “It’s a safe place to be for people where they can buy from knowledgeable and legitimate gun dealers. And we know a lot of these vendors from other shows around the circuit. They’re a unique and interesting group of people.”
Dave Crook of Wynyard is the owner of Crooks Carving. This was his first visit to the show in Canora. He said he had spoken with Ernie Gazdewich, one of the show organizers, at a previous show in Melville, and Gazdewich convinced him that it would be worthwhile for him to come to Canora.
Crook said he was happy with his decision to attend, especially since the vendors at the Canora show all focus on outdoor-related activities.
He was originally a wood carver until he saw an antler carving and knew he wanted to try it. What began as a hobby soon turned into a business.
“I carve moose antlers because deer antlers are too small and elk antlers are too porous,” he explained. “Many people like to have my carvings as decorative items for their cabins.”
Crook is willing to do custom work, and often has clients ask him to do carvings from pictures. Due to the hardness of antlers, he usually uses special cutters that are similar to stone cutters.
He said most smaller carvings take about a full day, while larger antler carvings can require 10 days of steady work.
Jim Tomkins and his business partner Ken Rogers of Rabbit Lake were at the Canora show promoting their business Almosta Mercantile. Tomkins said the business name was chosen because at various times, “we’ve sold everything from saddles to fine china.”
But for their visit to Canora, the focus was on fishing equipment. They sell almost anything to do with fishing, including the latest in rods, reels, lines, lures and stringers, which allow the fishers to carry the fish in the water outside the boat and keep them alive and fresh while continuing to fish.
Tomkins said this was their first time at the Canora show, and they were eager to make the trip because it has developed a reputation for attracting a significant number of dedicated buyers.
Tom and Tina Dixon of Grayson, owners of Dixon’s Gun Fixin’s were at the Canora show for the third time. They do a variety of firearm repairs, including: complete disassembly and cleaning, cobalt plating, scope and sight mounting, chamber polishing and reaming, bore sighting and rebarreling.
They also perform antique firearm restorations.
Tom said he likes to focus on metal work while his wife really enjoys the woodworking aspect.
He said their business benefits from being involved in the Canora show.
“Word-of-mouth is very important at a show like this,” he explained. “We know a lot of the other vendors, and we often end up sending each other business.
One of the factors that keeps many of the venders coming back to the Canora show is the volunteer support. As many as 25 volunteers give of their time to help venders with getting set up before the show and then taking down their displays and loading up their vehicles at the end of the show.