Of Boat Shows and Burning Man

Despite an era of digital connectivity and easy access to information, there’s still no substitute for real-life experience. We all want to see the elephant for ourselves.

Or the dual-outboard 900-horsepower pontoon boat as the case may be.

That’s what we saw a couple of weeks ago as our Client Renfro Productions raised the curtain on their new edition of the Ford Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show. A consumer show for outdoor enthusiasts presents the easy paradox of requiring attendees to be indoors and surrounded by tens of thousands of other people who also prefer solitude and open spaces.

And yet they came.

For 63 years now, this show has curated the top experts and equipment for fishing, hunting, boating, powersports, adventure travel and more from across North America. But just as important, it brings together enthusiasts, giving them the opportunity to share their knowledge, experiences and secrets.

Despite all the technology, people will always want to be around people like them. We are naturally attracted to others with a shared experience (family holiday gatherings excepted). That makes the crowds of other outdoor enthusiasts a feature.

Every year around Labor Day, in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, tens of thousands of people who share a different sort of common identity come together to build a city that lasts only eight days. Artists, performers, self-expressionists, individualists and myriad other non-conformists travel hundreds or even thousands of miles just to spend a week with their own tribe. Most (ahem) of what they do in the desert could just as easily be done at home.

And yet they come.

To belong to something they feel a part of.

Like people do.