I know the folks at the Western States Horse Expo will not be happy with me for this blogpost.
But, I want to share how I truly feel – and how all of my friends that I polled felt about the Expo this year and in part, last year…
We all miss what it was.
THE WESTERN STATES HORSE EXPO (previously) was incredible – immense and wonderful!
Previously, I thought of The Western States Horse Expo as my adult Disneyland.
I swear, I would get all excited and jittery when I knew it was coming up. I’d take off work and plan my whole weekend around the Expo. I’d go all three days and still not see everything. In fact, I usually went alone so I could motor around without distractions.
It was awesome!
I’ve written several posts about the previous Western States Horse Expos. If you search the horseandman.com ‘search box’, you’ll find several entries.
Anyway, I looooved it. Loooved it. Hubby always knew he was fine during my birthday because I’d come home with a list of things I wanted and all he had to do was come with me on the last day and get my gift at the ‘last day’ discount price!
Yup. The Horse Expo was the shiznaz. Full of wild new products, inventive new products, saddles of all kinds, tack of all kinds, new nutrition ideas, new therapies, great gear, totally awesome vacations and artwork and demonstrations and breed shows and clinicians and workshops… 4 huge buildings full of vendors, outside venues full of trailers, barns, tractors, ranch equipment, barns full of demonstration horses and sale horses and some years they hosted the Mustang Make-Over.
The event was huge and a horseman’s F-A-N-T-A-S-Y.
Well, first let me tell you about last year…
Last year, there was an odd feeling in the air. The show had decreased in size enough that you knew it was smaller, but not enough to know that a real shift was coming. The vendors were a bit anxious which always makes the buyer anxious. There were less ‘small-time’ inventors and quirky, oddball booths. Hmmmmm. I knew something was up but I hoped it would be different once the economy got better…
But this year, it was so much smaller that I really, really felt the pinch. I was able to go through the whole show in one day. Absent were all the unique vendors. Every booth was a National brand.
After sadly shuffling around for a day, I finally just asked a vendor, “What’s up?” She told me that she had to pay $6000 for her booth. She told me that most of the people she knew could not afford to come here anymore. She was really upset and feared that she wouldn’t even make her booth fee this year in sales.
As I looked around more discriminately, I saw vendors that I felt didn’t fit. SEARS was there, hawking flooring. There was another company that had shower inserts for sale… It seemed like only the huge brands were able to vend and the rest were non-profits or people who sold things like sheets and magazine subscriptions.
I was devastated.
I was so devastated that I left.
BUT, I RETURNED
But, Hubby wanted to go with me since it has been a birthday tradition. And since the Expo had been so nice as to give me a Press Pass, I decided to go back. (I have never asked for a press pass before.)
So, we went back.
Although we had a good time, clearly to even Hubby, this show was a mere shadow of its former self.
I guess the good part was that we could find space to watch just about any clinician since attendance was low, too… We watched “Boz” from Boz Saddlery. I have several of his saddles and love them. Hubby was very impressed with the demonstration and decided to go to one of Boz’s clinics! I know Boz personally from HORSE AND MAN the TV series. We did a segment on his saddles. It is linked here if you’d like to watch it.
Other than that, we just walked around and wished there were more breed displays. Hubby and I ate bad food, had a beer, walked through some living quarters trailers that we coveted and met up with our friends from V-6 Ranch, but other than that, we didn’t find anything that compelled us to spend any money.
I guess that was bittersweet. I wanted to find a bunch of stuff that I couldn’t afford…
I did purchase a few things. But, totally lack luster. I found a few deals on fly masks, grooming items that I already used and the discontinued fly wipes that I liked so much from a few weeks ago… I actually found those wipes for $5/container, which was half the price of any that I found online that were bargain basement. So, I felt lucky there and I bought 4 of those Ricochet wipes. Oh, yeah and I found a Weaver headstall for $16. That will be good since Rojo seems to be breaking his headstalls as we practice tying to the trailer….YES I did purchase one of Clinton Anderson’s safe pullback rings…
I also piked up a mat gripper. I will be trying that this weekend. I’d like to think that I could have a device to help me pull mats other than Hubby – who hates to do that. Yuk, he says.
WITH HEAVY HEART…My plea to the Western States Horse Expo proprietors:
So, with the heavy heart of a kid who went to Disneyland during repairs or the off-season, I came away from the 2012 Western States Horse Expo with a huge sadness.
I miss all the people, vendors, horsemen, craftsmen, salesmen and various other hidden geniuses who did not come.
What a shame.
The past years when the Expo was packed with vendors, attendees and exhibits of all kinds, the energy was palpable and the air had a practically audible POP! My plea to the Western States Horse Expo people is to think about whatever created the lack of 2012.
Please, bring the fees to where the newbies and groundbreakers can still afford to show us their extraordinary dreams.
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Please please pass on any info for vendors you liked. I’ll look them up! THANK YOU for reporting!!! I’d love to see the hand made bridles, if
you have the card from her!
Hey everyone! So I went to the horse expo yesterday and it wasn’t half bad, not as good as it was before but definitely not as horrible as 2017! I had to know why it was declining so I googled it. 6k for a booth?! It makes me wonder how they think people can afford that. Hopefully they cut a break to the small businesspeople like the young lady making paracord tack and the lady with the beautiful hand make bridles. I mean I’ll probably always go but it’s sad that such an awesome event is on the decline :(
I never complain, I just cowgirl up; but this years’ Expo was sad. I have attended for years and look so forward to it. My son joined me last year for the first time and decided to make it a Mother/Son tradition. Sadly again all that I had bragged about was gone. No Mustang Make Over, Extreme Cowboy, or an equal event. WHAT HAPPENED???? Usually GOOD vendors gone:( My son looked until his eyes were red for a NICE mans’ belt and cross on a chain. No quality roping equipment; I guess ropers not welcome??? Sadly these blogs will only matter to us who attend so we can just vent:( For what it’s worth, I did buy a sweet little Paint gelding half starved and not current on anything??? He is happy and safe and will now eat and grow into the horse he should be. Im not sure about next year; our tradition may just have to watch it all shrink. Im sad!!! Thank goodness Chris Cox was there!!! Craig, Richard, Ken, Stacy, Where Were You??? Thanks Richard Winters for your booth and Congrats to Sarah for another fine ride:)
What seems silly is that these places can out price themselves so that nobody comes, or they could charge lots less and get lots of vendors and make money. I wonder if things like liability cause the increases, or if it’s just plain old greed, which will do them in. $6K for a vendor! How do they think the vendor can make that back?
I read this and felt sad because even on this side of the country (Toronto, Ontario) we have suffered the same effects from festivals being under-funded and shut down or various other events that had a connection within a community for many years to turn around and go corporate or also shut down.
One yearly festival that is near our home wonders why no one is investing in booths when they try to charge 4 times the amount for a booth in a festival that might pull 10,000 for an entire weekend, whereas the down-town festival makes booths affordable and gives you access to about 80,000 people.
I second that! I hope the powers that be will reconsider and go back to the old format.
Well it is so sad when the convention centers just flat out price themselves. Maybe the odds and ends, and newbies can have their own convention in the local park, or parking lot of the local feed store? I go to the Christmas Baazar every year, here locally and it use to be a big thing….Now though it has become very commercialized, and not so many of the home made things I enjoy looking for. Plus the booths have just flat out priced themselves! I can’t afford to buy anything anymore. I am sure it is because they probably have a very high booth price to cover. SO SAD!