Outdoor Adventure Show Turns Twenty

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Outdoor Adventure Show Feb 20
Behold the 2016 Outdoor Adventure Show

February 19 -21st, 2016 The Outdoor Adventure Show brought 300 vendors together at the Toronto International Centre for the 20th time since its creation back in the fall of 1996. This brilliant little trade show is compact yet amazingly diverse, and offers great value for fourteen bucks admission; kids age eleven and under get in free and that’s probably why there were so many of them.  Everywhere you looked there were infants getting their paper passports stamped, climbing rock walls, and zip lining between platforms overhead. This is a family show that’s fit for outdoor adventurers of all ages.

Outdoor Adventure Show rock wall climbing
Kids climbing up the rock wall – photo by Rob Campbell

The three-day event offered a wide array of adventure options, exhibits, and interactive features. There were live performances going on at all hours, and in every corner of the cavernous room.  In between the center booth blocks there was a huge swimming pool which they called the Demo Pool where a speaker entertained audiences and gave live kayaking lessons. But the principle attraction was probably the travel deals pavilion where people were visibly salivating over cheap flights and signing up to get even better deals in the future.

Monica Rizk, Flight Center Monica
Monica Rizk at the Flight Center – photo by Rob Campbell

The pedestrian crush occurred in the main aisle just inside the center door where it bottle-necked around the Flight Center and another zebra print style hot deals travel agency. If you were shopping for discount airfare this was probably a good place to be, but I think what happened was the new people coming in the door came up against the folks who’d been around once already and everyone jammed up on Main St. there and right at the center of the morass was Xcitelife.

Xcitelife is a marketplace for unique experiences.

Paul Peic listens at Xcitelife-at-Outdoor Adventure Show 2016
Paul Peic at Xcitelife – photo by Rob Campbell

Outdoor Adventure Show attendees could not get down the center aisle without encountering Xcitelife’s list of fun things to do; the booth attendants wore black shirts with big red Xs and were busy working the show with all their hearts. Extremely friendly greeters stood under the company flags drumming up xcitement for their experience marketplace and they were signing up many influential new users right there on the spot. Other reps with tablets went circling about the show talking to exhibitors about hosting events on their site, and yet more business development people were talking directly to travel bureaus about white-labeling their software for foreign markets. So these guys were really working the crowd from all angles, and I’ll bet they doubled or tripled their eXposure.

“Everyone wants to live an Xciting life, but too often folks get stuck in the ordinary” says Paul Peic. “At Xcitelife we’ve made it our mission to transform lives through experiences.”

Paul’s own Bucket List – photo by Rob Campbell

Xcitelife staff employed a simple but effective user engagement strategy; passerbys were encouraged to sign up on their phones and then use the Bucket List feature to find and transcribe their ‘bucket list desire’ with black marker onto a red paper X.  The paper cut-outs were then pinned on a giant dream board which visualized the collective recreational fantasies of the entire show!  At the end of the event, one X would be picked off the board by a blindfolded volunteer and that person will win their experience, or the closest approximation. So this is a great way to spread the word, grow the membership, and empower people to think about getting out of the house and doing Xciting things in the real world.

Adventures in Paddling
Adventures in Paddling stage – photo by Rob Campbell

A steady stream of people flowed through the event eddying about in open areas of the trade show floor and around the central water pool (the Demo Pool). The crowd also collected in front of three live theatres where experts shared stories and advice. This author came upon the Adventures in Paddling stage just as the float plane touched down on Rabbitkettle Lake on the Nahanni River. The crowd gasped and pushed in tighter around the stage.

Rapid Media, Best Kayak Buyer’s Guide

The Paddling Adventures theatre was ringed by the latest model SUPs or Stand Up Paddle Boards, canoes and kayaks for sale, and on the far side of the opening stood the Rapid Media booth with giant posters displaying their magazine titles like an enormous cliff marking the rocky shoreline in the sea of people. Most folks faced forward listening to speakers. It must have been a good show for the Rapid Media booth attendees who no doubt soaked up a lot of knowledge being in that audio space all weekend long.

Kayak buyers guide, rapid media
2016 Paddling Buyers Guide – photo by Rob Campbell

Elijah Liedtke drew attention to the Rapid Media kayak reviews which the gang has put a lot of time into making the best, easiest to use, most comprehensive price index in the market.  Here’s a link to kayak reviews, Paddling Buyers Guide. This is indeed a crowning achievement for a publisher like Rapid Media which has done so well in the paddling space with four popular magazines, Adventure Kayak, Canoeroots, Kayak Angler, and Rapid the whitewater magazine. These publications are gorgeous print mags filled with real life travel stories, photos, videos and professional gear reviews from expert paddlers all over the world. The guys were selling half price subscriptions to anyone in the room not completely mesmerized by the live show.

Blu Wave, SUP Canada
Eric from Blu Wave – photo by Rob Campbell

Here’s Eric of Blu Wave with an Adjustable Carbon Fibre Bamboo SUP Paddle. He was keen to discuss all the Blu Wave products, which are he claims  specifically designed to surf Canada, from small waves in Muskoka to ocean breaks in Tofino, and Lawrencetown, each of their boards are “designed in Canada, for Canadian waters”. They use high quality fibres and epoxy resins to provide a durable product in an attractive package.

Eric was real talkative when it came to Blu Wave using bamboo. He noted that Epoxy Bamboo Construction produces stronger boards with a higher strength to weight ratio and although bamboo isn’t a Canadian product per say their company’s use of bamboo over a similar synthetic concoction recognizes the need to use natural, renewable materials in manufacturing. Style is also important and all their boards have a recognizable and consistent “Blu Wave” presence. “When you see a Blu Wave coming at you on the water, you know it’s a Blu Wave!”

D&D Meats came down from Alliston Ontario

D&D Meats – photo by Rob Campbell

D & D Meats from Alliston Ontario were among the only food vendors at the show. The family owned business had a wide corner all to themselves, and were doing a brisk business selling cured meats, beef jerky pepperettes, sausages and kielbasa. They easily engaged this wandering author simply by holding out a tray of free samples. Yes I spotted the well stocked slab of preserved meat some distance away and only as I drew closer did I notice the man inviting me to try some.

The beef jerky was delicious so I bought a big pack of pepperettes. When I got home I noticed these are made from turkey not beef. Its okay.  I read that turkey is commonly used as a substitute for beef or pork and in this formulation could be even more delicious than what I tasted at the show.

Turkey Pepperoni from D&D Meats – photo by Rob Campbell

Hey Double D how many units of smoke did you add to that turkey? And also, what do you suppose is in the ‘Spice’ that is the fourth ingredient? Sodium nitrate is the preservative; it protects against botulism and other forms of microbiological decay. So does Smoke. Sodium nitrite is white but reacts with the heme in the myoglobin of the lean meat to give pepperoni its reddish colour.  Paprika and cayenne pepper (the Spice?) also contribute to a cured meat’s red color. Pepperoni sausages are commonly sold in two sizes: an inch or so in diameter for pizza and two to three inches in diameter for sandwiches.  The only other foods were granola bars and trail mix so these guys had meat eaters in a captive market.

This is what the exterior of the trade show looked like. It was a beautiful day outside.

exterior Outdoor Adventure Show
Outdoor Adventure Show, Toronto International Centre Feb 2016 – by Rob Campbell

Does anyone else find it amusing that the Outdoor Adventure Show is held entirely indoors?

Visit their website for more info – http://outdooradventureshow.ca



About Rob Campbell 48 Articles
Rob Campbell went to film school and worked in the movie business for a decade, laboring behind the scenes in hundreds of productions as the reliable but annoying grip-with-a-script.