What did it take for Outside Retailer to come back again to Utah?

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Outdoor Retailer Show left Utah in 2017 because of the state’s policy of resetting Bear’s Ear National Monument and the Grand Staircase Escalante. Although these guidelines have not changed, the Expo decided to return to Salt Lake City anyway.

There’s no question that Utah is a fantastic showcase for outdoor experiences, and Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said that makes Salt Lake City the perfect host.

“I think our voice was pretty loud to say, look, we’re a complex state, we’re red and we’re blue,” Wilson explained. “We all work together across party lines … But here in Salt Lake County, we understand you, we know you care about what you’re about, and I think we’re a good partner.”

Wilson said she understands why the huge fair went, but she’s also a huge advocate for bringing it back.

“Well, I’m telling you, I don’t think my voice was loud enough at first,” she said. “Some I think we might take positions that are the opposite of mine [as] leaders of Salt Lake County.”

While she and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall have been vocal about the issues at hand, others said the infrastructure in place has made Salt Lake City the best option for outdoor retailers.

“With the renovated Salt Lake Airport, the increase in hotel and meeting space,” said Kaitlin Eskelson, President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, “and of course, easy access to world-class skiing and nearly limitless outdoor recreation.”

One of the criticisms from the past is that the public is not invited to the fair, but this year that is changing.

“One of the things we’ve always heard from our community and the public is that they’re like, well, we understand OR is a big deal, but we can’t even go,” Eskelson explained. “So how do we experience it and that’s why we’re bringing that to the streets of Salt Lake City this year.”

Outdoor Retailer’s opening night begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. with a free block party open to the public. The event will be rounded out with a trampoline stunt team, live music and a drone show.