World’s Largest Western & Equestrian Trade Shows Round Up Successful Showings at Dallas Market Center

September 15, 2021

Dallas Market Center (DMC), global B2B trade center and wholesale marketplace, recently hosted the world’s largest trade events for western and equestrian buyers and brands. Held Aug. 26-29, the venue’s second edition of the biannual WESA International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Market overlapped with the collocated Dallas debut of the AETA International Trade Show, which was presented by the American Equestrian Trade Association and took place Aug. 24-27.

Throughout the equine-themed marketplace, more than 1,000 western and equestrian lifestyle brands in temporary exhibits and 70 permanent showrooms showcased their wares, including a wide variety of apparel and accessories, footwear, hats, equipment and tack, alongside complementary gift and home décor categories. 

Held at the same time as the Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market and KidsWorld Market, the trade events collectively welcomed thousands of buyers from 41 states, with the number of first-time attendees setting a new record and accounting for 16% of total attendance. (Dallas Market Center does not release its attendee figures.) 

According to DMC officials, the market was a busy and energetic one full of focused and enthusiastic buyers searching for the latest and greatest in western and equestrian goods.

“There was such a good energy at the show, [and] the brands had great presentations of new products,” said Patrick Powers, president of WESA. “Our industry has tremendous momentum heading into the new year as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of WESA.” 

Many exhibitors commented that the WESA/AETA event was the biggest, busiest and most successful market they’d ever participated in, with serious buyers looking to open accounts and place orders to bolster their inventories.

“There is renewed excitement in the western industry,” said Jamison Hochter with Westmoor Manufacturing. “We now have a show that the customers, the manufacturers and the sales reps all look forward to attending.”

According to Hochter, the market was by far the busiest and most successful August show that Westmoor’s Panhandle Western Wear and Rock and Roll Denim have ever participated in. 

“We also opened more new accounts than at any market in recent memory,” he said. “The [show’s] move to Dallas has been a huge success, and we can’t wait for what January and the coming year should bring.”

Lauren Austin, co-founder and CPO of Hooey Brands, said she was very pleased with the bookings coming out of the August show and felt optimistic about the buying power in the year ahead. 

“Retailers were eager to see new products in person and place orders, further propelling the brand and the western lifestyle,” Austin said. “We feel this has been a successful transition for WESA and Hooey at the DMC, as we continue to see increases in traffic and purchasing at each show.” 

Additionally, WESA and AETA buyers also had the chance to enjoy one of the key benefits of attending shows held inside Dallas Market Center: purchasing opportunities across lifestyle categories at adjacent showrooms featuring apparel and accessories, gifts and home décor products from leading brands.

In its effort to support the comfort, health and safety of all trade show attendees, the downtown Dallas venue continues to implement safety measures including recommended face coverings for every person entering the marketplace. Other efforts include low contact entry via online pre-registration as well as enhanced cleaning with hospital-grade products, hundreds of hand sanitizing stations and social distancing signage. Along with these new steps, the marketplace provides safety measures that are part of its natural design, including open parking, large entryways, quick registration in multiple areas, wide hallways, multiple escalators to every floor and showrooms with controlled access to allow for the appropriate distance between customers.

The 2022 editions of the WESA International Western/English Apparel & Equipment Market and the AETA International Trade Show will return to DMC Jan. 13-16 and January 11-14, respectively. 


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.