A few weeks ago, the International Sportsmen’s Exposition announced the dates for its 2013 show in Denver—January 17-20. This is significant, because for the first time in years, ISE will not be held on the same weekend as The Fly Fishing Show, which is scheduled for January 4-6, 2013.
ISE’s John Kirk noted that his group had been pushed to schedule earlier in January in recent years because the skiing industry expo has occupied the Colorado Convention Center. Still, the fact that two outdoor shows (ISE appeals to a broader outdoor audience, including conventional gear anglers, hunters, etc., while the Fly Fishing Show obviously targets a focused demographic) have essentially competed in the same weekend in Denver has, in my mind, been a quagmire.
The fact that AFFTA jumped into the fly-aspect of ISE, opposite The Fly Fishing Show, has been a bone of contention well debated for years. The net-net of the same week scheduling has been that many retailers and manufacturers were forced to choose one over the other—do they play to the “base” or try to appeal to the “crossover” market, perhaps helping to grow the sport in the process? Or do they deal with the expenses and manpower effort to pull off both at once?
Consumers had choices to make also. Which show to visit? Where to hear the presentations? I’ve heard from some that having both on the same weekend was a plus for out-of-towners, who could visit Denver once for some one-stop (okay, two-stop) shopping.
But the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of visitors to both shows were locals. Admittedly, I’ve been working with ISE for the past few years as a presenter at the Fly Fishing Theater. I was grateful for that opportunity. But I wished I were able to see The Fly Fishing Show (last year I went across the country to The Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey).
Both shows are great. Both shows are important. Our industry should support both shows as much as it can. I think that can happen now, and I offer Kudos to ISE for moving its dates.
Because what was really happening before—and why this “local” issue is of national concern for the fly fishing industry—is that the two sides were dividing opinions. “Our show is better because we get to real fly fishermen!” “Our show is better because we’re reaching a broader demographic!”
And given the relatively sorry shape of this industry (though I believe things are looking up), that struck me as dickering over the last piece of pie in the tin, rather than baking another pie.
I am grateful that we are beyond that now. I hope the hatchet can be buried, once and for all. And I hope that manufacturers and retailers will realize this as an opportunity to reach both demographics. Goodness knows, we need all we can get.