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Colorado Opens Arms To Outdoor Retailers

The first Outdoor Retailer Show opens Thursday to a jam-packed Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Its new home follows a major falling out between outdoor industry groups and the state of Utah, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert. The OR Show had been in Utah for more than two decades, and it was actually Utah’s governor who established the nation’s first state director of outdoor recreation. Grace Hood is the energy and environment reporter for Colorado Public Radio. She says it’s clear that Colorado is welcoming the show with open arms.

“I think there’s also a celebratory tone. There are several parties Wednesday night, one of which is called “Welcome to Colorado.” It’s hosted by a big conservation group here; Conservation Colorado. Our governor, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s expected to be there as well as many big outdoor companies.”

Hood says Colorado officials are estimating a $100 million impact from the combined yearly shows and 28,000 new visitors for this first show alone.

"It's just a great feeling"

“There’s also this hope, I think, amongst economic development folks here that seeing, you know maybe a Patagonia or a Black Diamond, if they fly in for the show, they might be more inclined to set up a warehouse in Colorado.”  

Black Diamond Equipment founder and former CEO Peter Metcalf traveled from his Utah home to Denver for the show.

“It’s just a great feeling, and that’s what everybody’s talking about. To be in a state juxtaposed against Utah where all the policies seem to be so much against our national monuments and public lands and their stewardship.”

The Outdoor Retailer and Winter Snow Show runs through January 30.

This story has been edited to correct the economic impact Colorado officials expect from the show. The figure is $100 million, not $110,000.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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