You might want to polish up on Shirley Jones’ cameo performance in the 1955 western Oklahoma. Because that’s where Paddlesports Retailer, the new industry trade show designed “for paddlers, by paddlers,” is heading in four months as it moves from its debut location in Madison, Wisconsin, to the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
“Oklahoma City is cool,” says Paddlesports Trade Coalition chairman, Bill Kueper. “Housing is easy. The water venue is world-class brilliant. There’s nothing else like it in the United States. Oklahoma City is becoming a major Metropolitan area—they’re trying to be the new Boulder.”
Paddlesports Retailer runs Tuesday, August 28 to Thursday August 30. The on-water demo will take place on Monday, August 27 at the Boathouse District. The demo will begin at 3 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. underneath the facility’s stadium lights.
Everyone involved attests to its location being a great venue. Show participants can canoe, kayak, raft and paddleboard down class II-IV rapids while testing all the latest flatwater boats on the USOC sprint kayak course. The Boathouse is walking distance to the trendy Bricktown District, downtown, and the convention center and adjacent hotels. The Cox Convention Center offers more trade show space than the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, home of consumer show Canoecopia and where Paddlesports Retailer debuted last year.
“I think we’re going to want to be in Oklahoma City on a longterm basis,” says Paddlesport Retailer co-founder Sutton Bacon . “We’d like to find a home and stay there and make some roots.”
The Cox Convention Center also offers room to grow. Bacon reports strong registration numbers, with 175 retailers registered from 90 unique stores as of early March. In 2017 more than 550 buyers from a total of 275 unique retailers attended and organizers plan to grow these numbers in 2018.
In its inaugural year, Paddlepsports Retailer became the largest paddling-specific trade show in North America in terms of floor space and attendance. Given the great response to last year’s event, with 97 percent of attendees saying they’d return for two or more days in 2018, growth shouldn’t be a problem, Bacon figures.
Also look for Rapid Media to produce its Paddling Magazine Product Guide and new Industry Awards at this year’s show, held the evening of Wednesday, August 29.
“We’re already working on developing the new Paddling Magazine Product and Industry awards,” says Rapid Media founder Scott MacGregor, adding the new program will reward product innovation and showcase the efforts of individuals, organizations and brands dedicated to strengthening the paddlesports industry.