By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – Organizers of the Outdoor Retailer Summer show say they’re eager to return to an in-person event at the Colorado Convention Center in August, their first in more than a year. The trade expo and conference for the outdoor retail industry gathers twice a year in Denver, but has relied on virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorado Convention Center (credit: CBS)

“How do we look to the future, especially this summer and create an opportunity for us to come back together in a safe way,” said Marisa Nicholson, senior vice president of Outdoor Retailer on Wednesday. “Our community can come back and enjoy Denver and have the opportunity to gather and do commerce.”

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Since 2018, the show has brought a spring and summer gathering as well as a fall and winter gathering to the Colorado Convention Center. Buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers all attend the event traveling from around the world. Many brands are already based in the state or the Rocky Mountain region, so Denver has become an ideal destination.

While the public’s desire to enjoy being outside has supported many companies in the industry through the pandemic, there is still an excitement to get back in the same convention hall and see merchandise up close.

(credit: CBS)

“Being able to see the product side by side, the inspiration that people will get just by seeing a product,” she said on a video conference call. “The environment of an in-person event is really not replicable online.”

The move to digital programming in 2020 included education material, networking and showcasing items in a virtual setting. Their last two shows were not possible for multiple reasons including the Colorado Convention Center designated as an emergency site for a field hospital.

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But the parent company of Outdoor Retailer has produced multiple expos recently in the U.S. They are going to work off of that playbook for the summer show.

“We’re very confident not only do we have the right plan in place to execute in-person events,” she said. “We can create a safe and successful environment for our community to come together.”

Details on capacity and restrictions including masks, testing, and vaccine requirements have not been discussed yet. But organizers say they will follow CDC guidelines as well as state and local protocols.

The Outdoor Retailer Summer show will be in the second week of August. For more information, visit outdoorretailer.com.

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Shawn Chitnis