AFFTA Executive Director confirms IFTD is to be replaced by ‘brand new’ event
A brand new event for the US fly fishing industry is to take place next year. Devised by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA), it will replace the long-running IFTD show with an entirely new concept that is ‘better suited to the changing needs of the trade,’ says the association.
The likely date window for the new event would be the last week in September in Salt Lake City, with both indoor and outdoor components. AFFTA, the sole trade association in fly fishing, has yet to decide on the name of the show, but confirmed it will not be IFTD.
“We have listened to our membership and are trying to evolve trade gatherings to truly represent the needs of the industry,” said AFFTA Executive Director Lucas Bissett (main picture). “The old concept of trade shows is dying, and we need to find more value in bringing manufacturers, retailers, guides, media and organisations together. We are also tapping on the AFFTA Fisheries Fund to bring a laser focus on conservation in our fisheries.”
Bissett revealed that the show, located in Salt Palace Convention Center (below) and the adjacent Liberty Park, will still provide exhibitors with the opportunity to take a booth in the traditional way, but with some major differences.
“The industry has made it clear that they don’t want to be stuck behind a booth for three days and miss the chance of valuable networking,” he explained. “So we have expanded the opportunity to include more networking at the beginning of the first two days.
“This provides exhibitors with a time slot to meet up one-to-one or to attend selected seminars before the show floor officially opens. It is an opportunity to make introductions and schedule meetings before they get into their booths.
“The objective remains the same – to get manufacturers and retailers together to do business and discuss important issues facing our fisheries. But what we are trying to do is help people understand that there are many ways to do business and it doesn’t have to happen in the booth space.
“People have a choice about how they want to take part in this opportunity because AFFTA is providing many avenues to conduct business. The structure is not so different that it will alienate people, but different and flexible enough to free up people to achieve more of what they want.”
The outdoor day is designed to provide the industry with further opportunities for networking in a relaxed and convivial outdoor experience amongst live music and food trucks. The green space in Liberty Park has a pond for tackle demonstrations and there will be a large, tented area for those exhibitors who wish to continue their expo presence, along with staging for demonstrations.
Although the show will be radically different from what has gone before, Bissett and Show Director Ken Andres make it clear that this is the first of several steps that may be needed to achieve AFFTA’s goal.
“This is not a silver bullet solution because that doesn’t exist,” says Andres. “Feedback and input from the industry is the way forward and the 2024 event may be different, depending on this year’s experience. We want to continue to evolve and improve the event. That may be a two to three-year process.
“We want a show that is not just about product and sales, but about building a support system around those things. The aim is to find ways of working together better.”
A consumer day has not been ruled out for the future. “I can see the value, but we are ever mindful of the views of exhibitors and they are not yet committed to that,” added Andres.
Bissett is also keen to point out that the AFTTA Industry Summit, scheduled for Charleston, South Carolina, from October 16th-19th has an entirely different set of objectives to the new show. “The Summit is not a product event. It is an opportunity to discuss critical issues such as conservation, the increase in participation and the growth off e-commerce.”