Alaska Dispatch News
April 24, 2015
At Houston High, the traditional fundraising bake sale has gone ballistic.
On Saturday and Sunday at the Big Lake Lions Club, the school’s activities department will host the third annual Houston Gun and Outdoors Show, an event that has grown into a high-caliber fundraiser for sports and extracurricular activities at the Mat-Su valley high school.
The event started three years ago as a way to take some pressure off Houston’s small business community. The Houston-Big Lake-Willow area is a sprawling, decentralized community strung out for miles alongside the Parks Highway. There are a limited number of businesses, and Porter said every one of them was continually being hit up for donations to pay for everything from new uniforms to game officials.
“We were trying to come up with something unique to take the pressure off the businesses,” Porter said.
They looked down the road to nearby Wasilla High and noted that school has been hosting an on-campus gun and outdoors show as a hockey fundraiser for more than two decades. Because the area has a lot of outdoors enthusiasts, the idea of following in Wasilla’s footsteps seemed on target.
“The whole community has been very supportive,” he said.
The first year of the show attracted about 2,500 people and raised about $20,000. Last year’s attendance was nearly 4,000 and raised close to $25,000.
“It’s become a neat and special event,” Porter said.
While the show might not raise many eyebrows in Alaska, similar gun-related school fundraisers haven’t been as well received in the Lower 48. In 2014, a high school marching band in Louisiana was barred from holding a fundraising gun raffle by school district officials who had received multiple complaints.
Porter said he’s heard nothing of the sort. Alaskans are different, he argued, in that many own firearms and don’t have negative feelings about them. He might just have a point. Google the words “high school gun show” and the Houston and Wasilla shows appear to be the only school-related gun shows that turn up.