Chugiak-Eagle River gun show aims to support senior center, veterans’ charity

Friday, March 10, 2017 - 19:46
  • Associated Press

By Kirsten Swann

Chugiak-Eagle River Star

A weekend gun show at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center is expected to draw dozens of vendors and crowds of attendees and volunteers, raising thousands of dollars for area seniors and veterans.

“It’s a big community thing,” said Monika Dahlberg, operations director at the community senior center.

Set to take place March 11-12, the gun show will be the center’s third. Dahlberg said the first event was held last year: When it received an “overwhelming response,” the center planned another show, then another.

Vendors will occupy more than five dozen tables throughout the senior center dining hall and lobby, Dahlberg said. The vendor list includes recognizable names like Damsel in Defense and Alaska Paracord Designs, named the 2016 Alaska Manufacturer of the Year. Shoppers can peruse products from larger dealers and an assortment of hobbyists, finding everything from knives, guns and ammo to Scentsy products and the work of area woodworkers.

Alberto Malagon, a longtime Chugiak resident and carpenter, plans on attending the show to sell his custom wooden gun cabinets. The Chugiak show will be his second, he said. After crafting the cabinets for friends, he’d recently decided to expand his business – Mirage Unlimited — testing the waters via gun shows in Palmer and Chugiak.

“I have to see how the market is going to go,” he said.

For many vendors, the Chugiak-Eagle River show fills a geographical gap, drawing people from both Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Of the half-dozen gun shows set to take place across Alaska this year, the senior center event is one of three in the Chugiak-Eagle River area. Another show is scheduled to take place at the Eagle River Lions Club later this month.

“It’s a unique thing,” said Bodey Turner, owner of the Eagle River-based Northern Lights Armory. “Having it there in Chugiak-Eagle River – it’s really centrally located.”

Turner’s company offers everything from concealed carry accessories and apparel to self-defense gear. While he sells products through an online store, he said a large chunk of business comes through local gun shows. At the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center, he said, he’s found eager buyers and plenty of gun enthusiasts.

“The crowd’s been very receptive,” said Turner, who also participated in last year’s show.

At gun shows past, proceeds from entry and vendor fees have gone toward the nonprofit local senior center. This year, Dahlberg said, the center also plans on partnering with the Valor Corporation to support Alaskan veterans in need.

Led by CEO Brittany Jurasek, the nonprofit Valor Corporation helps veterans connect with counseling, job training, placement and housing. Because the organization is funded entirely through private money, local support is vital, said Turner, a member of the organization’s board of directors. At the upcoming gun show, the veterans’ charity plans on partnering with the senior center for a split-the-pot raffle, he said.

“For us to be able to get into CERSC — it’s really been a blessing,” he said.

Combined, last year’s two Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center gun shows raised approximately $18,000 for center operations, according to CERSC management. A fourth event is already scheduled to take place in October.

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