It’s baaaacckkkk! After cancelling the show at the last minute when the pandemic first hit in 2020, and changing last year’s in-person show into a virtual installment, Canoecopia, paddlesports’ beloved consumer show put on by retailer Rutabaga in Madison, Wisc., is back and again firing on all cylinders, to be held this year—along with a virtual component—Friday, March 9 to Sunday March 11. It will be the first the first in-person rendezvous since 2019.
The show is the largest paddlesports consumer event in the world, with more than 100,000 square feet of kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, outdoor equipment and clothing displayed and for sale from an array of exhibitors, as well as a full slate of presentations and seminars.
“We’re taking all the precautions we need to about COVID,” says organizer Darren Bush, adding that this year’s show will include both in-person and virtual components while following the current Dane County Public Health Order.
As part of these efforts, he says they’ve expanded the layout of the show space to include wider, 15-foot aisles to encourage distancing. Because of this, he says, they’ve lost 11,000 square feet of “sellable” exhibitor space, but he feels it’s well worth it.
“We’ve taken precautions to spread out a little so people are more comfortable for social distancing, so look for wider aisles,” he says. “We can’t fit everybody in, so we’ll have fewer outfitter exhibitors and people like that, but that’s OK.”
All Systems Go
This year’s show also might see fewer exhibitors from out-of-state Chamber of Commerces, he adds, that still have regulations about traveling, as well as perhaps exhibitors form Canada that have to cross borders. But other than that, it’s all systems go.
As for the virtual portion, where people can view the show’s robust line-up of presentations by Zooming in from their homes, he adds that, after last year, they’ve discovered it offers a few big advantages.
“The virtual component did super well for us last year, especially for people who live outside of the area, so we decided to offer it again this year,” says Bush, adding the presentations for the virtual event will be pre-recorded, with virtual tickets allowing access for viewing for 90 days. “It lets people from Florida watch any presentation they want to, over the course of three months. So we hope to keep it every year. People can now see every single presentation if they want to, which is kind of cool. Plus you can wear your pajamas!”
Some presenters, he adds— especially those who might not want to travel while the pandemic is still in play—will be conducting their presentations remotely from their own homes or offices.
Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Way, Madison, Wisconsin
Friday: 3 PM to 8 PM
Saturday: 9 AM to 6 PM
Sunday: 10 AM to 5 PM
1-Day: $15; 3-Day: $30; Ages 17 and under are FREE
Virtual Tickets: $15.00 (Access for 90 days)