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Surf Shows Draw Line in River

LOS ANGELES — The muddy Mississippi will remain the dividing line between rival West and East Coast–based action sports trade shows ASR and Surf Expo.<br><br>The Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association said Monday that it has inked...

LOS ANGELES — The muddy Mississippi will remain the dividing line between rival West and East Coast–based action sports trade shows ASR and Surf Expo.

The Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association said Monday that it has inked a 10-year deal to endorse Laguna Beach, Calif.–based ASR’s three West Coast shows — in January, September and its year-old March fall show — in exchange for a portion of show revenues.

East Coast producer Surf Expo, which ruffled feathers and divided loyalties this year when it launched a back-to-school show in Anaheim, said in July that it would not go forward with that event.

SIMA, a nonprofit trade association, has historically used the Mississippi river as a boundary line, rallying buyers for ASR’s productions in the West and Surf Expo’s in the East. Both shows focus on the surf, snow, skate market.

In March, the producers squared off for West Coast loyalty, introducing competing b-t-s shows a week apart in Anaheim and Huntington Beach, Calif. SIMA refused to endorse either show, causing some manufacturers to choose sides. Others opted for tact over cost, stretching budgets to pay for booths at both venues.

Most surfwear manufacturers commended Surf Expo for its responsiveness in tackling a long-standing industry need for a fall show, but acknowledged that ASR created a livelier show. A SIMA-sponsored survey afterward found that a majority of buyers preferred ASR’s smaller, hotel-based format, a SIMA spokesman said.

A Surf Expo spokesman said, since “ASR has demonstrated its commitment to the West Coast, we can focus on ours to the East Coast.”

Kevin Flanagan, group show director for ASR, said the SIMA endorsement deal “sends a single message to the industry that our goals are aligned. Going forward, the trust, the communication and the commitment is there.”

ASR’s fall show will be held March 11-12 at the Hyatt Resort in Huntington Beach. Surf Expo will hold its fall show March 4-5 in Virginia Beach, Va. ASR is also expanding to Europe, planning to bow a show in Biarritz, France, in July 2003.

SIMA will use the funds from the ASR-endorsement deal, which ends in 2012, for coastline protection initiatives and to produce an annual market research dossier.