PALMER — Thousands of shoppers and vendors from across the state gathered inside Raven Hall over the weekend for the 2021 Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show.

This event has the only outdoor sports show in the state so far. With numerous shows canceled across the state met with a long and socially distant year, countless people have been looking forward to this event and relished the chance to interact in a public place again.

“I love it. I’m over the overprotectiveness,” Mystical Alaskan Treasures owner Tygh Edinger said. “I’m hoping this really starts to open things up more, event parking lot ones would be fine… I enjoy the people.”

Edinger shared a booth with Wanderlust Crafts owner Rachel Huddleston. The two Palmer vendors are longtime friends. Edlinger’s wife, Krissy is a crafter and face painter and works alongside them when her slope schedule allows.

“We try to make it a variety of stuff,” Edinger said

“Best of both worlds,” Huddleston added.

Edinger said they’ve all made a lot of friends over the years doing these types of shows, and it’s nice to see faces in person again, both familiar and new.

“It’s good to see small biz back up and running, getting more recognition It’s pretty nice to see people out,” Edinger said.

Huddleston said this was their first time participating in this show, but they were vendors at the host, Mat-Su Events’ 2020 summer festival at the Alaska Raceway Park.

“They’re great hosts,” Huddleston said. “The Valley doing this is awesome.”

This was also Dan and Sherry Wright’s first time participating in the Mat-Su Outdoorsman Show. The Anchorage couple expressed their relief to be able to attend a public event. Dan said there isn’t anything else going on in Anchorage.

“You don’t have the covid insanity… We live in such a beautiful state… To come out and meet other Alaskans who love Alaska is great… We really need this, to see people out smiling,” Dan said. “Some of these people I’ve done shows with for years and years… I’m happy to see people are still creating… And there’s so many different ways people are doing it, so many different crafts.”

A moderate crowd cycled through the first day of the Outdoorsman Show. The second day surged with thousands of shoppers. Parking overflowed out of the Raven Hall parking lot to the point of visitors walking from Red Parking to the show, making for plenty of sales opportunities for the vendors.

“For the most part, they’re pretty happy… We organize it, but it’s their show. The show is for the vendors,” event organizer Matt Rowley said.

To learn more about the 2021 Mat-Su Summer Festival and other upcoming public gatherings hosted by Mat-Su Events, visit matsuevents.com.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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