Farewell, Utah

I’ve never been great with goodbyes. In fact, I suck. I cry, my face gets splotchy, and I turn unreasonably sentimental. I usually have to run away abruptly before I humiliate myself further. But, Utah deserves a proper farewell so I’ll swallow my pride to bid the Beehive State adieu.

January, 2013 found me in Salt Lake at my first Outdoor Retailer trade show. I was fresh meat, so to speak, and wasn’t really supposed to be there. Since I didn’t have a qualifying media pass, a partnering brand hooked me up with a vendor pass so I could walk the show floor and scope out all the madness. It was overwhelming, it was exhausting, and it confirmed what I already knew: I really love the outdoor industry.

Since then, my appearances at OR have been regular. Active Junky took a chance on a total rookie and asked me to head up their gear section, so I nabbed a good ol’ media pass for the Summer, 2013 show. It was my first chance to walk the floor as media and I realized how different the world is on that side of the badge.

Outdoor Retailer

Photos: Will Rochfort

Winter, 2014 found me back in Salt Lake City attending OR, only now I was there for Backpacker. Since then, I’ve religiously attended the show every six months for the magazine as my gear sections grow bigger and I learn more and more about the outdoor industry. And while OR has transformed from a place to ogle gear into a reunion of friends, it has always been something I’ve looked forward to with excitement. My 30-minute meetings aren’t just a regurgitation of tech info with a faceless PR rep; instead, they’re sit-down chats with friends who have recently had babies or become engaged or undergone other major life decisions.

Last week was my tenth OR Show in Salt Lake; it was also my last. For those unaware, the outdoor industry and Utah have been at odds since January thanks to differing opinions on how to treat public lands. The feud reached a boiling point with a phone call to Governor Herbert that did not go as hoped. As a result, the trade show pulled out of Utah and began searching for new venues.

Outdoor Retailer

Depending on who you ask, there are a lot of opinions on this decision. Some believe that the industry gave up and didn’t handle it well. Many others, like myself, believe that it was the right thing to do. I still stand by that decision. For me, I have a hard time financially supporting a place who is actively fighting against that which I love.

But that doesn’t mean that this last trade show was not bittersweet.

Beginning in January, the show will be located in Denver {or at least for the next five years since that is the duration of the existing contract.} I’m psyched about that, of course, and I am very proud of my home state for understanding the value and the potential impact of the outdoor industry. I never would’ve guessed the little cow town I grew up in would turn into a progressive hub full of breweries, tech startups, and now, a hot bed for the burgeoning outdoor industry. But it did. And it has. I’m sure there will be a few bumps and hiccups along the way, but I have no doubt Denver will transform this show and help bring it to the next level.

Outdoor Retailer

All that said, I will miss our biannual trek to Salt Lake. The locals are fantastic people who have made our flannel-wearing ragtag bunch feel at home in their city. I’ll miss the vivacious crawfish boils at Cafe Molisse and the freaking delightful vegan food at Zest. Hotel Monaco and Little America have almost become a second home, and I know I’m going to question my breakfast choices when I don’t have the annual Backpacker launch breakfast at Bambara on the morning of the first day.

Am I excited for the forward movement? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a soft spot for Salt Lake.

Outdoor Retailer

Utah: From the entire industry, thank you for the past 22 years. And from me personally, thank you for taking in a total outsider and welcoming her into the fold. Fortunately, this isn’t a hard goodbye; it’s a ‘See You Later.’ After all, you still have many canyons to explore and desert sunsets to admire.

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5 Comments

  • Reply Claude August 2, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    POLITICS, I HATE IT!

  • Reply Anna Sheinman August 2, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Looks like you have a great time! Beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Art August 3, 2017 at 6:47 am

    It’s the right call to make by the outdoor industry. Hopefully Utah misses OR as much as you’ll miss Utah.

  • Reply Agness of Fit Travelling August 9, 2017 at 7:30 am

    Utah seems truly picturesque and amazing! What are your highlights from there?

  • Reply Joshua Baruch August 11, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Very beautiful picture & location for enjoyments and relax to our mind. So keep sharing continuous. Thanks for sharing!

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