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Grand-opening festivities at Cabela’s expected to draw a crowd

Cabela’s – the destination outdoor sporting and recreation goods retailer – will open a store today in Cheektowaga amid festivities that include music and prizes. And that’s just in the parking lot.

“Once they enter, they’ll get the ‘wow’ factor,” said Don Ashworth, the store’s retail marketing manager. “The first thing they’ll see is a full taxidermy Buffalo mounted in the front of the store. They can expect a lot of great specials, sales and interaction with our expert outfitters.” The highly anticipated debut of the state’s first Cabela’s store, located across from Walden Galleria, is expected to attract thousands and cause traffic congestion.

It’s become customary around the country for hordes to gather early in the morning for the grand opening of the hunting, camping and fishing store. Police anticipate upwards of 6,000 additional vehicles in an around that section of Walden, which is already a congested traffic area,said Cheektowaga Chief of Police David J. Zack.

Motorists are asked to avoid the area and take an alternative route if they can. Traffic on the Thruway is also expected to be affected by the opening.

The store will officially open at 11 a.m., when an employee shoots an arrow from a tree stand into a target that will cut the ribbon.

While the ribbon-cutting doesn’t occur until 11, Ashworth said the celebration kicks off at 8 with a DJ. He said the first 500 in line will receive gift cards worth $5 to $500.

The 88,000-square-foot store, built on the site of a former Wegmans, is staffed with about 225 part- and full-time employees. It boasts wildlife displays, an indoor archery range, a “bargain cave,” a boat shop, a fudge shop and a deli, serving buffalo meat on a weck roll, among other items. It’s also has a “gun library” of new and used firearms, antique and collectible guns for sale or trade.

But its main attraction, Ashworth said, is the interactive “conservation mountain,” which displays several mounted animals among a waterfall and 7,000-gallon fish tank stocked with local fish. Touch screens at the base of the display will emit the sounds that each animal makes.