Safari Club International Convention Returns to Reno
The Safari Club International Convention is back in Reno, after a six-year hiatus.
The Safari Club International Convention left Reno in 2013, moving to Las Vegas. Now the largest hunting convention in the world is back at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center for the next three years.
"It's great," Paul Babaz, President of SCI said. "I mean, the city's been great. The people have been great. It's kind of like a homecoming. We've been coming here for so many years."
Babaz says the SCI Convention left Reno because it was outgrowing the space and because it was difficult for some travelers to fly into Reno. The convention center has added a temporary tent to increase exhibit hall space and the airport has added more flights since then.
"The airport authority has been very helpful and we've had great flight service here, so it's worked out really well," Babaz said.
An estimated 20,000 people are visiting Reno, booking 18,000 room nights for the four-day event. Officials say they bring an economic impact of more than $21 million.
"People are typically here for a few days of fun, so they're going to frequent all of the night spots in town, the many quality restaurants we have," Phil DeLone, President/CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority said.
The convention has anything from art exhibits to hunting trips for sale. Walking through the many aisles, you can find custom-made rifles and shotguns, numerous outfitters, and vendors selling jewelry, furniture, clothing and hats, archery exhibits and other fishing and hunting booths.
"They like to fish, they like to hunt, they like to experience the forest and the woods and the streams," DeLone said. "They're coming here to purchase a future vacation and that vacation will be built around hunting and fishing."
People can buy a hunting trip in many places around the world. You can find hand-crafted rifles and shotguns for more than $200,000. People that attend the event range from small game hunters to big game hunters with different budgets.
"There are price ranges here for everybody from a few thousand dollars up to hundreds of thousands of dollars," DeLone said.
SCI is a hunters advocacy group. It's foundation focuses on conservation and education, using membership dues to fund the programs.
"It started back in the early 1900s with Theodore Roosevelt and the North American conservation movement, where really it was hunters that brought back a lot of the species from extinction," Babaz said.
Not everyone is happy about the convention's return. Compassion Works International paid for a billboard on Moana Lane. It has a picture of a bear that says "Not your trophy". The group plans on protesting at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Saturday.
Officials expected protesters and say they are still happy to be back in Reno.
"It's been our home for so long and a lot of exhibitors and members prefer Reno," Babaz said. "So it was an easy decision we had the opportunity to come back to Reno."
Visitors have to be members to attend. With so many hunters and anglers in Nevada, they can still go to the event as long as they pay for a membership. They can do that at the entrance of the convention center. The SCI Convention runs from Wednesday through Saturday.