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Outdoor Industry Focuses on Summer Trade Show Before Its SLC Exit

U.S. Bureau of Land Management
Utah lawmakers and Gov. Gary Herbert are pushing to undo the new Bears Ears National Monument. Positions like that triggered the exit of the Outdoor Retailer trade show after the summer of 2018.

A week’s passed since the Outdoor Retailers trade show announced it’s leaving Salt Lake City after being here two decades. And there are hints the show is trying to leave Utah even before its three-convention contract is up.

The company behind the Outdoor Retailer trade show restated its commitment to Salt Lake City – but just for this summer. A fact sheet from Emerald Expositions Wednesday says it’s “reconsidering all its options” after the gathering planned for late July.

“It’s nothing new,” insists Scott Beck.

The CEO of Visit Salt Lake says past statements for OR have left the door open for relocating sooner than the summer of 2018, but he doubts that will happen.

“There is a contract with the Salt Palace Convention Center and over 25 hotels in Salt Lake,” he points out. “They would have to extricate themselves from those contracts in addition to finding space in such a short window.”

Outdoor companies like Patagonia have pledged to boycott any future shows in Salt Lake City because of Utah’s public-lands politics. The companies say it’s time to take their business --around $45 million a year -- to a state that shares their values about the environment.

Meanwhile, the Outdoor Industry Associationis focusing on this year’s Summer Market show at the convention center.

“Our industry feels strongly that we do want to use the summer show as more of a celebration of public lands and also to thank the Salt Lake community,” says Amy Roberts leads the trade group.

So far there are no details about what kinds of protests are planned in the host city.

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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