AUGUSTA — A gun show is typically considered a man’s event, and many of the few women attending seem to be thinking, “Are we done yet?”

But what if there were puppies?

And jewelry, artisan bread, soap, artwork, candles — and another stop to see the puppies again?

“This is a man’s and a woman’s show,” said Ray Hamilton, president of the Ancient Ones of Maine. “It’s not just a gun show. There are lots of unique items to buy here.”

The Ancient Ones of Maine’s 22nd annual Outdoor Sports & Gun Show drew more than 1,800 people — of varying interests — to the Augusta State Armory on Saturday and Sunday. Antique, reproduction and modern weapons and ammunition; archery equipment; other sporting goods; period items for re-enacting; smoked meat and cheeses; canned food; and other items were also for sale at the show.

And those puppies did work.


“I’ve had wives tell me that they come just so they can see the puppies,” said Paula Varney, of Varney’s Labs in Turner. Varney’s puppies have been featured at the show for the last 12 years.

The Ancient Ones of Maine is a living history club based in Canton that does demonstrations and teaches history about Maine from the late 1600s to the Revolutionary war in the 1700s. Members dress, depending on their preferred persona, like Revolutionary War soldiers, colonials or explorers.

“We all love history and want to keep it alive,” he said. “It keeps connection between past and present.”

Hamilton has been part of the club since the 1980s, when he saw the Ancient Ones of Maine in Anson. “These people are nuts,” was his first thought, he said; but when a friend attended and loved it, Hamilton had to get involved.

Josh Salisbury finds re-enacting a good environment for his two children. “Its enriching for them to experience the history,” he said.

Salisbury, who was from Vermont, was selling modern rifles, shotguns and knives in order to fund his family’s participation in French and Indian War re-enactments.


“It’s hard to get new people interested in re-enacting because its expensive and takes a lot of time,” said Salisbury, who has been re-enacting for 26 years.

Proceeds from the show support the club’s activities. Last year the club sent seven people to the Alafia River Rendezvous in Florida, Hamilton said.

Demonstrations, or “encampments,” the club offers teach skills of the time periods, such as how to make fires, cook, trade, knap flint, shoot flintlock muskets and more.

David Bryant, of Mount Vernon, also known in the club as “Gomer,” gave edge-weapons demonstrations. Adults who signed a waiver could throw tomahawks under the guidance of the experienced thrower.

Jonathan Morse, of Chelsea, gave the tomahawk throwing a try while his wife, Tara, watched. On the first throw, Morse’s tomahawk bounced off the target.

Bryant, who had been throwing for 22 years, adjusted forward just inches. Those inches helped Morse’s knife complete its rotation so that the blade, not the handle, cut the target, keeping it up on the wall.


“That was wonderful,” Morse said. He’d expected to miss but didn’t mind making a fool of himself. “It was nice to hit it.”

Hamilton remembered a boy from New York City who saw fire for the first time at one of the club’s encampments at the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray.

“The boy really didn’t believe that’s what it was,” he said. “We could show him that.”


Abigail Austin — 621-5631
Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ

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