Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 - Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.
Summer Market 2013 kicked off on a balmy evening at the Gallivan Center with the first Outsiders Ball, a creative stew of live music, art, interactive projects and fund-raising aplenty.
The sold-out event drew some 900 attendees and raised more than $350,000 for 100 community projects to get youth into the outdoors. “I’m overwhelmed, amazed and thankful for this industry’s generosity,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, which hosted the party. “It’s a testament to a community.”
The event drew a mix of young and not-so-young, including plenty of outdoor industry CEOs. In true outdoor fashion, ball attire consisted of the Summer Market’s unofficial uniform for men — plaid, short-sleeved shirts, long shorts and flip-flops — and casual, sleeveless dresses for women.
Going beyond the usual fund-raiser, the party incorporated interactive elements positioned around the plaza. In the Artist Corner, Minneapolis-based graphic designer Viet Do displayed four silkscreened card designs inspired by stories of transformative outdoor experiences. For a small donation, party-goers could assemble their own pocket-sized notebook with one of the cards as a cover.
Elsewhere, volunteers encouraged attendees to write responses to prompts such as, “Who Is the Outdoor Enthusiast of Tomorrow?” and “Why Should They Care About Us and the Outdoors?” on large blackboards.
Kyle Cassidy, who works for The Clymb, was overseeing one of the boards. “It’s exciting,” he said about the party. “This show is all about business, but it should be about something more. We don’t have answers; we just want to create a dialogue,” said Cassidy.
“Look around,” he added. “The people here are game-changers.”
In another area, Story Corps (inspired by the national oral history project of the same name), guests could record a brief video of themselves talking about their passion for the outdoors and ways to inspire future generations. The pieces will be edited into vignettes “that will help spread the message of the Outsiders Ball,” said Ivan Levin, director of Outdoor Nation, the youth-focused program of the Outdoor Foundation.
A live auction featured items ranging from a ski trip to the exclusive Yellowstone Club to a large-scale photograph by professional climber Jimmy Chin.
JanSport co-founder Skip Yowell was presented with the first Outsider of the Year Award for his longtime work in getting young people involved in the outdoors.
Teva President Joel Heath was among the party-goers. “This is an opportunity to get together as an industry and share ideas,” he said. “The industry is waking up to the possibility that the answer is not in our own building.” One of his suggestions: “Embrace digital. If we’re not talking in their own medium, no generation will want to get involved.”
Around 9:30, the after-party kicked in; it was open to anyone with a show badge or business card for a suggested $20 donation. Les Stroud, of Survivorman fame, took the stage with his blues band.
“I focus everything I do on my affiliation with nature,” he said before the performance. “Reconnecting with nature is not just important to survival — it’s what our whole survival is about.” Through multimedia concerts, he spreads the message of embracing the outdoors. “It doesn’t have to be the jungle; it could be the park at the end of the street,” said Stroud.
The ball’s energy was impressive, especially for a new event. “The party is a great idea,” said Mark Satkiewicz, president of SmartWool. “At most OR shows, you don’t get this level of audience the first night.”