International Fly Tackle Dealer Show Shatters Records in Denver

November 11, 2019

As evidenced by its impressive growth in participation, relocating to Denver seemed to have been a good decision for the International Fly Tackle Dealer trade show, which took place Oct. 16-18 at Colorado Convention Center.

Known as the world’s largest international gathering of fly fishing manufacturers, retailers, sales reps, media and fly fishing organizations, IFTD 2019 experienced a record 137 percent increase in its attendance at 2,251, its largest audience ever in the history of the event. In July 2018, the show drew in 950 attendees to a collocated event with ICAST at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

In response to attendee and exhibitor feedback, American Fly Fishing Trade Association, which owns and operates the show, decided to not only move IFTD to another location but also shift its timing from summer to fall to increase industry participation, according to show officials.

“The fly fishing industry showed up and made a statement this year,” said Ben Bulis, president of AFFTA, which is the sole trade association for the fly fishing industry and the largest angling trade organization in the world. 

He continued, “After six years co-hosting in Orlando in July with ICAST, and with the growth and increased enthusiasm of our industry, it was time for a big move. The decision to once again make the show a stand-alone fly fishing event, schedule it in October and return to our roots in Denver was the result of direct conversations with our membership. We know that there’s no way to please everyone, but the results are loud and clear: IFTD is home.” 

The 2019 show also set records on the expo floor, with 156 exhibitors showcasing the latest gear, equipment, waders, fly line, tippet and accessories across 98,000 square feet of exhibit space. More than 260 new product showcase entries competed for best-of recognition in their respective categories. 

According to show officials, booth space sold out 10 months prior to the 2019 event, setting another record for the show.

Fly fishingIn 2018, IFTD attracted approximately 80 exhibiting companies to a 76,300 sq. ft. showfloor. 

The event’s conference portion also saw a jump in attendance, with 15 educational seminars attracting 491 attendees. The show’s industry breakfast, keynote speaker Steven Rinella, host of the Netflix series MeatEater, sold out at 290 attendees. 

IFTD also featured two themes that the fly fishing industry has rallied behind: the #kickplastic initiative and promoting diversity on the water via a lively panel discussion. 

This year, the trade show went single-use plastic-free and worked to reduce its energy footprint. Green practices included using ecoboard signage and compostable plates, cups and eating utensils; handing out reusable water bottles and supplying filling stations; using evergreen badge lanyards and eliminating aisle carpeting. 

Data on the show’s total waste diversion, energy savings and carbon reduction was not available by press time. Learn more about IFTD’s sustainable practices here.

“This year, our move back to Denver to stand on our own is the culmination of three years of tireless work by our staff and board, but especially by our show committee, led by Steve Bendzak,” Bulis said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the programming we had for our attendees. This show is such a vital part of our industry’s success. We’re already digging into next year and can’t wait to deliver an even bigger and more valuable event.”

IFTD will return to the CCC Oct. 7-9, 2020.  

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