MARION -- It's about 1 p.m. Saturday and the line at the ECA Gun and Knife Show in the Marion Pavilion is backed out the door.
Some of the folks in line are carrying a gun or two, unloaded of course, hoping to find a dealer willing to make an offer. Others are looking to check out the large selection of knives on hand. Everyone, though, is looking for a deal.
Joe Langham, a gun dealer from Keyesport, said the number of people coming through the doors has been steady. Though the weekend show is competing for dealers and customers with another show in Cape Girardeau, Langham said he was pleased with business.
"As long as dealers keep their prices decent, people are buying," he said.
Buying and selling firearms isn't Langham's primary occupation, he said. Rather, it's more of an extension of his hobby of collecting guns. He's been a federally licensed firearm dealer for about 10 years, he said, and he's been coming to the Marion show for the past several.
Several of the people attending the show will stop at various dealer booths and show a gun they brought in. Sometimes, they're hoping for a trade or to make a few bucks, but other times they just want to show off part of their collection.
Ken Wenzel of Carmi, formerly of Harrisburg, was taking in the sights of the show with his son, Daniel, and two of his grandchildren, Jacob and Ethan.
Ken had a pair of old revolvers with him with custom grips he made himself. He said he decided he wanted to try making wood grips to replace old or worn grips, and he was pleased with the results. Ken said he preferred to use cedar for custom gun grips.
"Cedar has a very beautiful grain to it, and it's good to work with," he said.
In another row of dealer tables, John Keasler of Gallatin County stood behind his display of knives, rifle scopes, binoculars and other sport-related items.
Keasler, who's been a knife dealer since about 2000, said he enjoys talking to the people who come by his booth, whether they're showing him a knife or he's helping them find one for their collection.
He said he attends shows in Southern Illinois, along with Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri, and the tastes of customers vary with each show and locale.
"If knives aren't selling well at a show, then I try to figure out what will sell that weekend," he said. "I sell quite a few binoculars, and people also like to look for scopes. If something's not selling, then I try to sell something else."