At this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market tradeshow, the push to get more youth outside benefitted as much as attending retailers and manufacturers. The event kicked off at the Gallivan Center with the first Outsiders Ball, a fund-raiser that 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,” says Chris Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, which hosted the party. “It’s a testament to a community.”
The sold-out event, consisting of live music, artwork and interactive projects drew more than 900 attendees, including several outdoor industry CEOs committed to the cause.
The gala affair also incorporated such interactive elements as an Artist Corner, highlighted by Minneapolis-based graphic designer Viet Do displaying silkscreen card designs based around outdoor experiences; blackboards encouraging attendees to brainstorm idea on how to continue to get youth outdoors; and even a Story Corps area where guests could record a brief video of themselves describing their passion for the outdoors and ways to inspire today’s youth to do the same.
“The show is all about business, but it should be about something more,” The Clymb’s Kyle Cassidy told Outdoor Retailer magazine. “We don’t have answers; we just want to create a dialogue.”
The extravaganza did that and more, with the majority of funds raised through a live auction. 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.
“It was an opportunity to get together as an industry and share ideas,” Teva President Joel Heath told OR, encouraging companies to embrace the digital world to help ge the message across. Also helping spread the message was Survivorman’s Les Stroud, who took the stage with his blues band.
“I focus everything I do on my affiliation with nature,” he said. “Reconnecting with nature is not just important to survival — it’s what our whole survival is about.”