Get in Gear Fest showcases local manufacturers

Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC

The second annual Get in Gear Fest comes to Asheville’s River Arts District Saturday, March 19. Hosted by the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina, a local trade group, the event will give attendees a chance to meet with representatives of over 20 local companies, helping them understand the passion and technology behind the craft.

“Our region is the East Coast’s biggest hub for outdoor gear manufacturing, yet many of our local folks, even the gear junkies, don’t know about all the equipment being made here,” notes facilitator Noah Wilson.

Besides the various product demos, there’ll also be adventure races, a Rescue Skills Rodeo, a slingshot shooting range, kayak demos on the French Broad, family and adult adventure races, a silent auction offering guided outdoor experiences with gear makers, and display “villages” featuring ultralight and adventure camping equipment.

Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC
Photo courtesy Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC

In addition, the festival seeks to bring representatives of major gear manufacturers here to experience the locally made products and sample the area’s recreational opportunities.

According to the trade group’s website, “Our goal is to build upon the awesome footprint of outdoor gear manufacturing we already have here in WNC and grow the region’s outdoor industry together … highlighting the region itself as well as our products and businesses.”

The organization also embraces Asheville’s passion for all things local. “We should support local gear for much the same reason as we should support local food, or buy a microbrew instead of a Budweiser,” says Wilson. “Supporting locally made gear supports local creative industry and manufacturing jobs, and helps grow our region as a hub of innovation and manufacturing excellence.”

There are environmental bragging rights, too. Network members are committed to green manufacturing, maximizing local sourcing, and minimizing or eliminating waste from manufacturing operations.

Recover Brands, for example, manufactures clothing (including the event T-shirts) from 100 percent recycled materials, such as polyester made from plastic bottles. Blue Ridge Chair Works produces durable chairs and tables using American-made materials — and makes bottle openers out of the wood scraps. SylvanSport’s tow-behind camper and gear hauler is made from over 80 percent locally sourced parts.

Photo Courtesy of Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC
Photo courtesy Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC

The free festival enables people to try out gear before they buy. There’ll also be family-friendly entertainment, a beer garden featuring local brews, food trucks and an ice cream cart. Go Local Card holders will be eligible for special offers, and a portion of the proceeds from beer sales and the silent auction will benefit RiverLink, a local nonprofit.

All in all, the one-day event will help local outdoors lovers gear up for spring and summer adventures.


Gearing up

Date: Saturday, March 19, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 144 Riverside Drive in Asheville

Cost: Admission is free




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About Josh O'Conner
Josh O’Conner is an urban/land use planner with a passion for urban agriculture. He can be reached at @kalepiracy or @joshoconner on Twitter or e-mailed at

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