The inaugural Vero Beach, Fla., Military History Expo & 6th Annual Gun Show Feb. 7-8 surpassed all expectations in production, battle re-enactments, military vehicle attendance and public attendance of over 6,000. The event honored American military history, veterans and America’s sacrifices over this exciting 2-day family friendly event.
The Vero Beach Gun Show on its own has been a long-standing successful event but the show organizers, Patriot Productions wanted to diversify and add a new element that would be theme related and make it a charity to give back to the local community. They did just that by combining a military history expo with the existing gun show.
Partial proceeds were donated to The Road To Victory Military Museum in Stuart, Fla., and South Eastern Military Academy of Port Saint Lucie, FL where all funds stayed local! This will be an annual charity event with room to grow much larger than it was this year and they plan to make this the largest military expo, vehicle rally and swap meet in the southeast!
Military vehicles are encouraged to spend part of their winter in Florida for the next event Feb 6-7, 2016! The organizers offer a fuel stipend to assist vehicle owners in coming to the event, as well as free space and free swap meet tables.
The show was comprised of the indoor 20,000 sq-ft traditional gun show and outside fun with WWII and Vietnam battle re-enactments each day. There is a 20,000 Sq-ft. covered pavilion with concrete floor that housed military vehicles and swap meet & retail surplus tables.
The show had 31 military vehicles from WWII, Korea, Vietnam and present day. The flat grass acreage comprised all the battle re-enactments, huge classic car show and football field size military kids zone with kids boot camp, obstacle course, Huey helicopter, food, retail vendors, beer truck and more!
The gates opened at 9 am Saturday and Sunday and when the show opened on Saturday they were quickly overwhelmed with public attendance and a gate line they were not prepared for! A quick command decision to open a second admission area took care of the long wait.
The open field was transformed nicely in to a landscaped battlefield with dozens imported real trees, old farm equipment and props of all sorts to make it look more realistic and exciting for the public. The WWII battles in the morning rocked the venue with explosions, anti-tank fire, small arms munitions from allied and axis troops and the bleachers were packed full with excited and eager population across all demographics.
The afternoon Vietnam battle actually drew an emotional response from a couple era vets as to its realism. The organizers said “We honor them by showing youth in a small way what life was like for our country and troops long before they were born…”
The pavilion was very well laid out and well attended with military vehicles staged and the swap meet vendors set up down the middle of this 20,000 sq-ft structure. A fold out WWII German military museum on wheels, the working, firing, rolling M8 and 37mm anti-tank guns turned many heads as well as the restored healthy looking 5tons, jeeps and more! The swap meet/retail vendors were all theme related to military products.
All re-enactors and vehicle owners had full access to the sold out gun show inside the enclosed building. Hundreds of vendors selling thousands of products were quickly surprised of the huge crowd entering the gun show building and eagerly parting with their cash for quality products. Over $25,000 went through the ATM machine in 15 hours of open show time! Both re-enactors and military vehicle owners enjoyed a fun Saturday night appreciation party with a bon fire, free draft beer and pizza!
In summary this was the first of many annual Vero Beach, FL Military History Expo & Gun Show events. It will be held once per year and always partnered with a local charity. The Road To Victory Military Museum in Stuart, FL as well as another charity will be in place for the Feb 6-7, 2016 date.
The organizers would like to see many more military vehicles, and a larger swap meet for 2016 and are very eager to work with anyone to assist in their participation for this robust 2 day targeted event. They say it’s now their job to make each year fresh with new and exciting features for the entire family and they are planning just that!
Organizer Mike Strickland says, “This is a very large complex both indoor and outdoor arena with all the support from the local government to make this project as large as it can be and we’re motivated to make that happen.”
For more information on the event including sponsorship and to register your vehicle or retail space for Feb 6-7, 2016 visit www.MilitaryHistoryExpo.com or call 866-611-0442.