Outside Retailer present transferring again to Utah after 5-year keep in CO


DENVER — The nation’s largest outdoor recreation show is leaving Colorado and moving back to Utah after five years, despite threats of boycotts over the move from major recreation companies and an environmental group.

The Outdoor Retailer Show, which has been held in Denver since 2018, will return to Salt Lake City after this year’s event in June, said Jeff Davis and Marissa Nicholson, with Emerald X, the company managing the show.

“Salt Lake City and County is our hometown, and we return with a commitment to making meaningful change. It would be wrong if we left the way we did and just went back as if nothing happened. In reality, leaving after 2017 hasn’t brought the change we were hoping for, so we’re going to push back, not back down. We strongly believe that staying engaged and contributing together to the ongoing discussion, no matter how difficult, is much more constructive.”

The Conservation Alliance, the conservation group that threatens to boycott, accuses Utah lawmakers of undermining protections of national monuments and public lands, the Associated Press reports. Other big-name companies like Patagonia, REI and The North Face said they would also boycott the show because of the move.

The biannual show was moved to Denver after Utah lawmakers asked President Donald Trump to repeal the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument in February 2017.

The show decided to go after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution calling on federal officials to lift the memorial President Barack Obama erected on 1.3 million acres of land in southeastern Utah, according to Associated Press was considered sacred to Native American tribes.

“It is clear that those responsible for the Outdoor Retailer trade fair have not learned their lesson. Utah politicians continue to wage war on the preservation of public lands, and their damaging efforts show no signs of slowing down,” said Jennifer, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities Rökala. “Not only is the Utah governor preparing to file a taxpayer-funded lawsuit to remove protections from Bears Ears National Monument, today Utah Senator Mike Lee fired Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson , asked about the possibility of gutting the law giving presidents the power to appoint national monuments.”

She continued: “Outdoor recreation is booming in the west, boosting local economies and calling for more public land to be protected. Outdoor industry leaders should recognize their growing power and not reward the bad behavior of extreme anti-conservation politicians.”

On Wednesday afternoon, REI released the following statement following news that the show is returning to Utah:

“We are very disappointed in Emerald’s decision to move the outdoor retail trade show out of Colorado and back to Utah in January 2023, despite strong objections from the cooperative and other industry leaders.

Utah’s elected officials have repeatedly refused to protect — and are actively working to undermine — properly designated national monuments and natural assets, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante. As we made clear in February, REI will not attend any OR fair in the state while Utah leaders insist on attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them. We remain committed to our employees, members, providers and communities across the state.

The cooperative is steadfast in our commitment to public lands—the mountains, deserts, prairies, bodies of water and forests that tens of millions of Americans of all backgrounds appreciate and enjoy each year. We recognize and maintain our solidarity with the Native American communities who have ruled this land for generations and continue to lead the campaign to protect them.

We hope Emerald will reconsider hosting Outdoor Retailer in the future.”

Colorado contributed a total of $1.7 million to support the relocation of the show from Salt Lake City, with the understanding that organizers would host three outdoor retail conventions in Denver each year for five years.

In a joint statement, Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper said the news of the show leaving Colorado was “disappointing.”

“Emerald X is ignoring the outdoor recreation industry’s strong desire to hold the Outdoor Retailer Show in Denver. While this news is disappointing, we’re ready to work with outdoor recreation leaders on new ways to demonstrate the strength of the community. Colorado’s long history of supporting outdoor recreation and protecting our public lands makes us a leader in this space.”

Gov. Jared Polis said Wednesday that despite the move of the Outdoor Retailer Show, Colorado remains the epicenter for outdoor recreation and the outdoor industry.

“Today’s announcement represents a great opportunity to showcase Colorado’s leadership in outdoor recreation. I’m proud that Colorado remains united with most of the big brands in valuing our public lands, and we remain focused on the future opportunities that will result from even stronger partnerships between the outdoor industry and the state of Colorado, to encourage domestic innovation and high levels of success,” Polis said.