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WEST POINT - Considering the area lost millions when a collapsed bridge forced the Knob Creek Gun Range to cancel its Spring Machine Gun Shoot, local officials and business leaders alike held out hope that a new bridge would be constructed in time for the fall shoot.
The 2012 Fall Machine Gun Shoot will take place as scheduled this weekend, however visitors will not have a new bridge to get to and from the event.
Knob Creek manager Kenny Sumner said that while he was hoping the bridge would be completed in time for the shoot, visitors will have to access the property using the temporary bypass constructed last year.
Despite a few hiccups here and there, Sumner said construction has went relatively smoothly, though he admitted it has taken longer than he anticipated.
Sumner said construction on the $500,000 bridge began this past spring, adding that he’s confident work will wrap up before the end of the year, giving Knob Creek management plenty of time to plan for the 2013 spring shoot.
Since the biannual event began in the early 1970s, the spring and fall shoots have become one of Bullitt County’s biggest tourist attractions, drawing thousands of visitors from across the country each year.
Asked if people eagerly awaited the upcoming shoot, Sumner responded with an emphatic yes, adding that Knob Creek’s phones have been ringing off the hook.
“They’re chomping at the bit,” he said.
As Sumner explained, Knob Creek management reluctantly cancelled its spring shoot after the original bridge was hit by a log truck and gave way.
The temporary bypass that currently stands at Knob Creek’s main entrance was constructed shortly after the collapsed bridge was removed.
The bypass has allowed Knob Creek to stay open, but because it sits 10 feet below the original bridge flooding and the fear of flooding not only forced management to cancel the spring shoot, but the gun range had to be closed during much of the holiday shopping season.
“That money’s gone. It’s just gone,” Sumner said. “We just have to suck it up and grin and bear it and go on.”
Sumner said cancelling the spring shoot cost his business around $100,000, money that Knob Creek has relied on to repair and upgrade the gun range.
Asked if the fall shoot might make up for canceling the spring shoot, Sumner said no, but he thinks the event’s return will draw a large crowd.
“We’re hoping for a big turnout,” he said.
Bullitt County Tourism Director Troy Beam said Knob Creek’s biannual shoots have a “million-dollar” impact on the local economy, which is why those in Bullitt County’s hospitality industry are so anxious to see the return of the fall shoot.
Jay Patel, who serves on the Shepherdsville-Bullitt County Tourist and Convention Commission and the Bullitt County Hospitality Association, said the cancelation of the spring shoot easily cost Bullitt County businesses alone an estimated $1 million.
Patel, who also owns the Hampton Inn in Brooks, said the cancellation affected his business, “big time,” costing his hotel around $20,000.
The hotelier said he’s anxious to see the fall shoot take place, adding that he hopes there are no glitches.
“We would be highly disspaointed if the event is cancelled due to the bridge not being completed,” he said.
Aside from the Kentucky Derby, Patel said Knob Creek’s shoots draw more visitors to Bullitt County hotels than any other single event.
Sumner said more than 1,000 vendors are expected to begin setting up on Thursday and the shoot will take place as scheduled.
“We’re good to go,” he said.
In addition to the countless vendor tables folks will have the opportunity to browse, there will be shooting competitions throughout the weekend and rare vintage machine guns will be on display.
Those who attend will also have the chance to shoot at used appliances, abandoned vehicles, and barrels of fuel with pyrotechnic charges attached
“It’s something to see,” Sumner said. “Plus it’s a cheap outing.
The Knob Creek Fall Machine Gun Shoot will take place Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Oct. 12-14. Admission is $10 for those 13 and older, $5 for children 12 and younger.
For more information call (502) 922-4457 or visit knobcreekrange.com.