Canoecopia is not just the largest paddlesports consumer event in the world, we also like to think it’s the unofficial start of the paddling season. But like so much else this year, the annual consumer trade show usually held in Madison, Wisconsin, will look a little different.

While a virtual Canoecopia can’t replace the energy that comes from person-to-person interactions surrounded by more than 250,000 square feet of kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards and outdoor equipment—founder Darren Bush promises this year’s event will be the next best thing. From March 12-14, 2021, Canoecopia go online for an educational and inspirational virtual gathering with the paddling community.

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Canoecopia typically welcomes more than 20,000 paddlers. | Photo: Courtesy Darren Bush

“Cancelling Canoecopia last year was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was clearly the right thing to do,” said Bush in a video released to attendees. “As we approached the fall, we realized Canoecopia 2021 wasn’t going to happen in real life again because, obviously, of the pandemic. So, we decided to try something different.”

Three things keep attendees coming back to Canoecopia year after year: The brands, the presenters and the great deals. This year, Canoecopia attendees will explore virtual exhibitor booths, be able to text exhibitors, watch product demos and view virtual showrooms. There will also be more than 80 presentations rolling out over the weekend, on topics including destinations, skills, history, conservation efforts, fishing tips and fitness. Room sizes for presentations are unlimited and most presentations will be available for viewing up to 60 days after the event, so you don’t have to miss any. Attendees will be able to live text chat, direct message, and in some cases, participate in live Q&As with speakers during and after their presentation.

And, attendees with still be able to get a discount on gear with a Canoecopia ticket. The three-day event is $15. Get your ticket here.

Summer Trade Shows

Canoecopia isn’t the only tradeshow with big shakeups this year. Some events have gone virtual, others have postponed, and others are planning for business as usual. Here’s the latest on what some of the outdoor industry’s biggest events are planning.

ICAST | July 20 – 23, 2021

The world’s largest sportfishing show is headed back an in-person trade show in Orlando, Florida, this summer. “While the health, safety and security of exhibitors and attendees continues to be our top priority,” said ASA President Glenn Hughes, “we are all looking forward to getting back to business. Come July, we are confident that an in-person show where we can reconnect with one another will happen. Orlando and the OCCC has been home to ICAST for many years and we are excited to return.” Read more here.

The Big Gear Show | August 3-5, 2021

Industry newcomer, the Big Gear Show will debut its hardgoods-focused exhibition on August 3-5, 2021, in Park City, Utah. Co-founders Sutton Bacon and Darren Bush have ditched the convention hall, moving their new show outside and are expanding it to combine paddlesports with cycling, climbing and select camping brands. The idea is to double-down on gear, without compromising the show’s schedule to accommodate soft-goods manufacturers. Read more here.

Outdoor Retailer  | August 10-12, 2021

On February 23, news broke that Outdoor Retailer has changed their Summer Show dates. The in-person trade show is being pushed back by eight weeks, from the originally scheduled dates of June 15-17 to August 10-12. This is to ensure a “safe and successful in-person event” and meet the capacity requirements of the Colorado Convention Center amid ongoing COVID-19 precautions.

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