OR Summer Market kicked off last month with the show’s first ever two-day Open Air Demo at Willard Bay State Park. With 73 exhibiting companies, the demo started off relatively slowly, but certainly picked up momentum as the first day wore on. Many manufacturers were quite pleased with the quality time they were allowed to spend with many of their first and second tier accounts, while others were even more pleased with the large turn-out of consumer paddle-sports media. Over 1,100 retailers made it to the event.

Mike Wallenfels, president of Mountain Hardwear was pleased with both aspects, saying “This is the perfect venue to show our product and spend some more time with our retailers. During the show, so many people are in the booth, I am sometimes only able to wave and say ‘Hi’ or shake hands. I just spent an hour with one of our key retailers and we were able to get some great ideas flowing back and forth.”

While the outdoor demo is predominantly a paddlesports venue, more footwear, specifically trail running, companies are attracting retailers to Willard Bay. Teva and Garmin were hosting a three mile run every hour and usually had around a dozen buyers on the trail trying out new footwear and fitness-oriented wrist-top GPS units. In addition, Magellan hosted their successful geo-caching event, giving away prizes to anyone who completed the course.

The keynote speaker at the 2006 Summer Market Industry Breakfast offered insights into the generation trend-watchers are calling the Millennials. Retailers who attended the Outdoor Demo the day before had an opportunity to meet some of this generation’s best athletes face to face.

On August 9th, the Outdoor Industry Foundation launched the Outdoor Idols initiative to create role models who can draw other young people to the outdoor lifestyle. Selected by a panel of 20 journalists, industry leaders, and outdoor athletes, the candidates came with growing lists of accomplishments in outdoor competitions.

The first set of 8 Outdoor Idols was introduced with a backbeat of music that reminded spectators of an MTV award show. From 11-year old mountain biker Kerry-Anne Hamilton to 19-year old ultra runner James Bonnett, the first class of Idols represented a wide range of outdoor activities including climbing, bouldering, biking, trail running, adventure racing, whitewater paddling, mountaineering, and outdoor instruction. The first class of Outdoor Idols will serve as industry ambassadors and vote on the 2007 Idols.