September 13, 2021
By Lynn Burkhead
After succumbing to surging case numbers of the Delta variant of COVID-19 last month, the American Fly Fishing Trade Association has announced plans for a rebooted version of the International Fly Tackle Dealers Show.
According to an AFFTA news release, the new dates for the IFTD Show will shift from this fall into next spring with the show remaining in Salt Lake City for a March 30-April 1, 2022 run.
"AFFTA is excited to let you know that we have new dates for IFTD!," stated an early week news release. "There will be new and exciting components to this show, your show!
“This is our industry's gathering, our community's opportunity to help each other's businesses,” the release continued. “As part of that business component we are having a Dealer Summit on Tuesday March 29th, so make sure you come a day early, retailers!"
The announcement of a spring 2022 IFTD show comes less than two full weeks after AFFTA was forced to cancel its previously scheduled Oct. 20-22, 2021 show in Salt Lake City.
While the organization had hoped to follow on the heels of July’s successful ICAST trade show in Orlando, not to mention a wildly successful Bassmaster Classic and Classic Expo show in June that drew more than 147,000 fishing fans to Fort Worth, that was before the surging Delta variant of COVID-19 began to sharply increase case numbers, hospitalizations, and ICU bed usage across the country.
Within a matter of weeks, hopes for a fall IFTD show were dashed and the AFFTA board of directors and the organization’s new executive director Luke Bissett were forced to cancel the IFTD show’s return to the annual calendar for the first time since the 2019 event was held.
But even with last month’s cancellation announcement, AFFTA Chair of the Board, Jim Bartschi, expressed confident hope that the show would reconvene sometime in 2022 for an in-person trade gathering.
That hope was fulfilled, for now at least in the fluid and ongoing pandemic response in the U.S. and abroad, with the Sept. 13, 2021 announcement of new IFTD show dates out in Utah.
Why the optimism and announcement of new show dates?
For starters, there are hopes that the Delta variant could be peaking soon as rising case numbers begin to possibly plateau and fall in some areas.
And there’s the ongoing push for life-saving vaccinations across the country.
Add in the success of big music concerts, full NFL and college football stadiums the last couple of weekends, and even significant gatherings of people commemorating the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in America, and it would seem that a continued push towards normalcy is possible in the weeks that lie ahead.
That hope is enough for the AFFTA board of directors and leadership to move ahead with their plans for an in-person 2022 trade show event next spring on the western flank of the Rocky Mountains.
One question that some in the fly fishing industry might have is whether or not the time slot on the calendar will work.
From this writer’s perspective, it could since spring runoff will likely be beginning in the West at that time, the winter and early spring consumer fly fishing show season will be winding down, and the height of the saltwater flats season for permit and tarpon will still be weeks away in the Florida Keys.
That could mean that the late March and early April IFTD show dates next year will work out just fine.
But as Ross Purnell, publisher and editor of Fly Fisherman magazine points out, there are also potential challenges that the new show dates bring.
“IFTD has never previously happened in the spring,” notes Purnell. “April is a peak selling season in some markets, and just before the peak selling season in the Rockies.”
Despite those potential challenges brought about by spring show dates, AFFTA is confident that the event next spring will come off strong and help an industry that has been trying to find its way forward after the lost fly shop sales, guide trips, and fly fishing travel opportunities following the quarantines and business shutdowns of 2020.
And that’s not even mentioning the lost business opportunities this year from drought and heat related trout stream closures, historic wildfires, and even catastrophically low steelhead returns.
But in the end, AFFTA is ready to push ahead and see the industry begin to return towards normalcy.
"We are excited about the fact that we are getting to have our show at a different time of the year and only six months away from our original dates in October," noted AFFTA in its news release.
"This is just the start of the innovative ways we hope to change our industry gatherings moving forward. Together we can ensure that our industry remains strong in the face of the ever changing landscapes of today and what better way to be together than at IFTD 2022!"
For information and questions about the newly announced 2022 IFTD Show, please contact Kenneth Andres by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.