It draws more events to the state than any other complex, and it's the number-one tourist destination center in Tulsa. But organizers say it's a "hidden treasure", in the middle of town.
News on Six anchor Tami Marler explains. When the RK Gun show rolls into Tulsa. 150 exhibitors like Linda and Weldon Farris spend hours unloading their merchandise. They hope 3,000 people will come through the fairgrounds Trade Center before the show closes on Sunday. â€œA lot of people will come to this facility where they wouldn't go downtown to do one. And we get a better gate because of that, get a better crowd in here.â€
â€œThis is the place, everybody knows where the fairgrounds is here in Tulsa." Gregg Hollis says the gun show is thriving on all the growth out at the fairgrounds. The county has invested $21.5-million into growth, adding to the treasure trove already on the grounds.
"We do have probably the largest exhibit building in this part of the country and as a result we probably have the best boat shows and home shows in this part of the country because of that facility." Denny Tuttle has been at the helm for much of the fairground improvements, he says the newly remodeled Pavilion is the crown jewel. "It was in such disrepair, people started to give up on it and now it's, we do Dragon Tails, February and March."
New developments like a world-class livestock arena are drawing exhibitors from all over the country, but with all that growth, come some growing pains. Mary Ann Hess says the fairgrounds board is driving away her customers, by not taking proper care of the Exchange Center and charging a fee to get in to the flea market. â€œThe parking is absolutely horrible. And of course we love the big shows that come out here, but it brings so many people and there's not enough parking, so our attendance is down to nothing."
CEO Denny Tuttle says refurbishing the older buildings here at the fairgrounds is in the "master plan," but it's not yet in the budget. He says in the meantime, they will work to address their needs.