The NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits for 2010 was held in Charlotte, NC last weekend (5/14-5/16/2010). I took the trip out from 2nd Amendment friendly Arizona for this year’s NRA convention to see the festivities, attend the 2A Blog Bash, and experience the educational seminars.
The Charlotte Observer greeted attendees with an extremely offensive piece, begging attendees not to shoot the place up, calling NRA members “a highly partisan lobbying group” for extreme right-wing Republicans. Fortunately, the Observer is extremely out of touch with the good people of Charlotte who warmly welcomed me to their city, asked me about the annual meeting, life in Phoenix, and generously offered me help at every turn. Welcome signs for NRA members were posted throughout the city.(Click the thumbnails for larger photos*)
The NRA learned from last year’s Annual Meeting in Phoenix, implementing those lessons by opening event registration the day before the show, increasing the efficiency and quantity of registration lines to smoothly handle the significantly higher attendance of over 72,000 people.
The Charlotte show floor seemed much smaller than Phoenix, but the foot traffic had a smooth flow and made the show easy to get around. I was able to take a fairly quick pass through the exhibits and handle a few firearms while I made notes of booths that needed a much longer return visit. The crowds did make it hard to get good photos, but a quick trip to the Press Office allowed me to take some shots of the floor. I had to wait until Sunday to get the exhibit photos you’ll see in subsequent posts.
After the show floor closed for the day on Friday, it was off to the W XYZ Bar in the Aloft hotel for a chat with Scott Bach, NRA Director and the head of the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs. Bitter organized the event so that gun bloggers could meet and chat, while learning how to persevere in an environment hostile to 2nd Amendment rights.
Next up, a trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame for a special NRA member only tour of the museum, just three days after it opened. The Hall of Fame is huge and full of historic stock cars, interactive displays, and educational exhibits. I took quite a few photos inside, but the Hall of Fame inductee’s cars were still under covers in their giant glass display cases, until their unveiling on Sunday May23rd, 2010.
Next stop, dinner! While I was disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Sister Toldjah (I hear she’s fantastic), I appreciated that she let us all know via Twitter that Ratcliffe on the Green had an awesome menu and welcoming attitude for NRA Annual Meeting attendees. Picking just one meal was tough when presented with a menu that had items like Grilled Wild Boar Rack, Elk Loin w/ brown butter bacon brussels, Chicken Fried Quail, Crispy Alligator Curry, Poulet Rouge Chicken, Bison Ribeye, and Grilled Trout. Dinner was delicious, the staff was great, and owner Zach Goodyear came by to chat frequently. I wish they had been open for lunch and dinner the rest of the weekend, so I could try out everything on their menu.
A poor quality cell phone photo of an excellent meal – Grilled Rack of Wild Boar w/ smoked potato salad, butter braised greens, and a blueberry habañero BBQ sauce at Ratcliffe on the Green
That was it for the opening day of the 2010 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Charlotte. I still had work to do at the hotel that night and I was still on Arizona time. Part two of my recap will get into some of the seminars, speakers, and maybe even a firearm or two.
* Apologies for the lower quality images. Please contact me to request a higher quality specific image.
Tags: 2nd amendment, Blog Bash, NRA, NRA Annual Meeting, NRA Convention