Diversified to Launch Spring Standalone Event for the Outdoor Industry

June 17, 2024

A new spring edition of a burgeoning trade show and conference for the outdoor industry is making its debut in Nashville next year. Set for June 16-18, 2025, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, Switchback Spring is the new sister show of Switchback, a business and education gathering owned and operated by international media company Diversified Communications.

Launched in 2022 as a specialty outdoor showcase and held each fall in conjunction with run and outdoor specialty retail conference and trade show The Running Event (TRE), Switchback offers forward-looking education, myriad networking opportunities and a bustling expo. The next Switchback at TRE is taking place Nov. 19-21 at the Austin Convention Center in Texas.

Switchback at TRE 2023

Building on the momentum of the original event and designed to be a standalone show, Switchback Spring will provide a gathering place for a growing core community of specialty retailers, media, and brand leaders in backpacking, apparel, and footwear. According to show officials, the event is welcoming a sizable population of outdoor industry members who have lapsed from regular attendance at other national trade events. 

“A key driver of Switchback’s growth has been from the encouragement of our cornerstone exhibitors, retailers, and industry partners, as they’re eager to see the energy and engagement around this style of event continue,” said Switchback Event Director Christina Henderson. “We’re also inspired by the opportunity to build a bridge between the known need for discovery – of new brands, new relationships, and new ways to grow — and the large number of outdoor industry members who are openly searching for an event that delivers on it all.” 

She added that the June show will be centered around key industry priorities, placing an intentional focus on core outdoor activities, hosted in a central location that’s welcoming to all parts of the U.S., and scheduled in the optimal timeframe for valuable buying conversations.

Switchback Like its sister show, Switchback Spring’s format will support the needs of its audience through four pillars of learning, discovery, connection, and celebration. The event will provide a robust schedule of premium conference sessions and peer-learning opportunities, all designed to be relevant and valuable for outdoor professionals at every business level, according to show officials.

The new event will also provide retailer scholarships, build meaningful industry partnerships and welcome an advisory panel to support the event’s future evolution.

Many core Switchback exhibitors and attendees expressed enthusiasm about the new event, citing exciting new business opportunities, a positive and supportive industry-only environment, a great format for retailers and a focused and efficient environment at the Gaylord Opryland. 

“I’m excited to see a show in the East that’s closer and more economical to attend,” said Ed McAlister, owner of River Sports Outfitters in Knoxville, Tenn. “Also, it’s great to be able to see all the new and great trail-running brands at one time. This is a growing market we all need to stay on top of.”


At the Gaylord, Switchback participants will also have access to a bounty of Music City and outdoor attractions. Not only is the venue within walking distance of the historic country music venue Grand Ole Opry, but it is also a neighbor to the Cumberland River, the 935-acre Shelby Bottoms nature preserve, and a Nashville greenway trailhead that is part of the city’s network of 180 miles of non-motorized pathways. Five Tennessee State Parks and three lakes can also be accessed within a short drive from the venue. 

We had a chance to sit down with Henderson to take a deeper dive into Switchback and what her team is doing to attract strong participation at the inaugural Spring event.


Why are you launching this event and why now?

We are launching Switchback Spring in June 2025 as the standalone, outdoor-focused counterbalance to the fall event. Simultaneously, we have done a brand refresh and a new logo that we introduced as part of the Spring Switchback announcement. 

Christina Henderson, Switchback

Over the last two years, Switchback at TRE has experienced a lot of growth in attendance from outdoor retailers, media, and brand leaders in the outdoor space. Based on conversations with our community, partners, brands and retailers, plus the data compiled, it is clear there is a need for a dedicated event that unites the outdoor industry. Ultimately, the goal of Switchback is to support the outdoor industry and the people who comprise it. 

Is this meant to be a competitor to big annual shows like Outdoor Retailer, and if so, why should buyers and sellers choose Switchback?

Our aim is to drive value for the outdoor community. We have developed an event based on feedback and needs of the industry. There are other events with the same goal, but we each have a different approach. Switchback will include a very intentional mix of education, business, and networking, making it a can’t-miss, one-stop opportunity. We will continue to listen, and we will evolve our approach based on the industry’s needs and objectives. We believe in the power of gathering a community, and Switchback will be a catalyst for business growth and thought leadership.

What are your strategies for attracting exhibitors and attendees to the Spring event, and what does Switchback offer that distinguishes it from the competition?

One of the largest differentiators between Switchback and other industry events will be the learning opportunities available. Switchback will offer dozens of educational sessions for outdoor specialty executives, business owners, managers, buyers, associates, and more. Switchback’s central location in Nashville will also be conducive to networking events and an intimate, community feel. And of course, we’ll hold year-round conversations with industry members and actively listen to the community’s needs.


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