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Utah Throws Hat (Back) In OR Show Ring

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Despite publicly losing the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer show amid controversy, Utah submitted a bid to reclaim the show after 2017.

winter outdoor retailer

In February, Outdoor Retailer (OR), the industry’s preeminent North American trade show, announced it would end its 20-year relationship with host-state Utah after 2017. It was a response to public turmoil over Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s resolution to rescind National Monument designation from Bears Ears.

The Outdoor Industry Association, an alliance of more than 1,200 outdoor brands, pushed for OR’s move and has been soliciting offers from potential host cities across the country. Most cities, that is, except for Salt Lake City. However, city officials there just submitted a bid to host the show anyway, according to Desert News.

“We recognize the potential futility of this bid,” Scott Beck, Visit Salt Lake president and chief executive officer, told Desert News. “But that’s not how we look at it. This is our job — to oftentimes chase windmills. And, you know, sometimes you catch them.”

Salt Lake Bid For Outdoor Retailer

Outdoor brands and consumers were split. But many supported OR’s decision to leave Utah after the OIA was unable to sway Gov Herbert’s stance on Bears Ears.

“It’s disappointing Governor Herbert and the Utah congressional delegation are in a different place from Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., and across the country,” Amy Roberts, executive director for OIA, said in a statement announcing the show’s move in February.

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Still, it appears Salt Lake City wants show organizers to know that the city as a whole still wants OR. The Visit Salt Lake board, including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, met Monday to review the bid. Few details were available.

OR representatives have made no comment on the future home of the show, or Utah’s bid in particular. But Beck said that at least 20 other cities were currently being considered.

Wherever OR ends up, that city will win a bi-annual boom of social and economic activity. By OIA’s numbers, the show injected $45 million annually to Utah’s economy.

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This year’s summer show in Salt Lake City takes place July 26-29.

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