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Collectors, spectators enjoy 2010 Bowie Knife Show

VIDALIA — Vidalia police officer Tyler Morace was charged with patrol duty at the 2010 Jim Bowie Knife Show Saturday.

And thanks to what he saw at the exhibit, he joked that he wouldn’t be too worried even if someone managed to sneak past all the security with a pilfered item.

“I’m making sure none of these valuable items get stolen — not that they couldn’t chase them down with even more knives,” Morace kidded.

And there were plenty of knives and guns to show off at the event, which took place at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.

Mike Worley, the show promoter, said the famous 1827 Sandbar Fight in Natchez inspired the knives being showcased. Colonel James “Jim” Bowie used a certain type of knife to kill Major Norris Wright, of Alexandria, La., in the duel.

“The bottom line was, it was probably a primitive-looking butcher knife. Once the duel happened, everyone wanted to replicate the knife that Jim used,” Worley said.

And modern-day collectors from all over the country made their way to the Miss-Lou for the show, Worley said.

“We have people from Florida, Colorado, California, New York, Texas, Georgia and Illinois here,” he said.

At least one international collector made the trip as well. David Petty, of Burnham Beeches, England, said he’s been coming to Bowie Knife shows in America since 1968.

“This is the best Bowie Knife show in America,” Petty said.

“The way Mike runs it, his generosity, his picking the nice, clean convention centers and having nice meals is what makes it so great.”

And the brotherhood felt by other collectors only adds to the wonderful experience, Petty said.

“It’s the camaraderie, that’s the main thing that makes this so great. It’s truly the crme de la crme in Bowie collecting. The only reason someone wouldn’t come is if they had a legitimate reason,” Petty said.

One thing that makes the Bowie Knives so compelling to collectors is how far back they can be traced, Worley said.

“All collectors are passionate about what they’re collecting. There’s a lot of history with Bowie Knives,” he said.

“A lot of these can be traced back to the 1830s and 1840s, and some were carried in several wars, like the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and even World War II. Some of them stayed in the family for many years.”

It’s also the quality of the knives that makes their collectors so passionate, Petty said.

“They’re some of the finest knives made. They’re mostly made in Sheffield, England, and there are several made by cutlers in America here.”

Although most of the items on display were for showcase only, Worley said a few items were for sale. The event had a $5 entry fee for anyone that wanted to browse the items on display.

“We allow the general public to come in. Not everything’s for sale, but I think it’s fair to be available for all people to see, because most of these collections are museum-type collections,” Worley said.

And Morace said he might come back next year, even if he’s not on patrol duty.

“I think I would, knowing what I know now and seeing how interesting this stuff is,” Morace said.

The show will conclude with one more day of exhibiting today.

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