Western Design Conference Announces New Virtual Marketplace For 2020

This year’s juried artisans will showcase their one-of-a-kind work to a worldwide audience

July 17, 2020  ML Staff

Photos courtesy of Western Design Conference

Custom cowboy boots and Western couture will not be stomping the fashion runway in Jackson Hole this September. Executive Director Allison Merritt has made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale (WDC), including the popular opening night live fashion show, due to COVID-19.

But while the four-day exhibit and sale originally scheduled for September 10-13, 2020, will not be held in Jackson, Wyoming, this year, visitors from around the world will be able to experience the excitement through a new virtual marketplace, Merritt announced. An interactive digital version of the Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale Sourcebook will be released September 10 on the WDC website—allowing collectors, design aficionados and anyone who appreciates the finest in American contemporary craft to source, commission and shop the best of the West.

“The decision to cancel the 2020 Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale was not taken lightly,” says Merritt. “We believe in presenting only the best each year and want success for all involved and current COVID-19 regulations prevent us from achieving this. In response, we are launching the Western Design Conference Digital Sourcebook to directly unite buyers with the best from the WDC’s past 28 years.”

The new Digital Sourcebook features artists, exhibitors and interior designers from this year’s juried pool of new and returning talent along with a showcase of fresh and available creations by past exhibitors from the Western Design Conference’s nearly three-decade history. From cowboy to contemporary, the virtual version will allow exhibitors to share their exquisite one-of-a-kind pieces, unveiling something for everyone.

“It is our goal to continue to play matchmaker between our artisans and those who appreciate their work. With people spending so much more time at home, there’s increased interest in being surrounded by special and meaningful pieces,” says Merritt. “We’re excited to provide this opportunity to discover what’s new in furnishings, fashion and accessories that reflect the best of the Old and New West to a broader audience via the internet.” As always, the WDC takes no commissions.


In addition to creating the interactive online Sourcebook, the Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale will be ramping up social media efforts, including special content and sneak peeks on its Facebook and Instagram pages leading up to the official September 10 unveiling.

Despite the disappointment of not being able to open in person, the creation of the new virtual elements will offer dynamic aspects of the event that will only make it stronger going forward, Merritt says. And she welcomes the opportunity for past exhibitors to participate, connecting with the Exhibit + Sale’s very engaged audience during a time when many artists’ markets have been cancelled or postponed.

“We’re in the process of reaching out to past exhibitors to share in this chance to showcase their creations. If there’s anyone we’ve missed contacting, we encourage them to get in touch. The rates are impossible to beat, and we have advertising opportunities for all.”

Meanwhile, the dates are set for next year’s Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale—September 9-12, 2021—with all 2020 jury-selected artisans guaranteed participation when the in-person event returns next fall.

About the Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale:
The annual Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale is a four-day, multimillion-dollar event that brings together craftspeople, collectors, interior designers, architects and fashion designers with a love of the West. The Western Design Conference was founded 28 years ago in Cody, Wyoming, to promote contemporary artists working in historical American craft methods. The Western Design Conference Exhibit + Sale moved to Jackson in 2007; Allison Merritt continues the strong commitment to Western arts in Wyoming while expanding the reach of the show, including a pivot to an all-new digital marketplace in response to the COVID-19 consequences that necessitated the cancellation of the in-person 2020 event. Additional information is available at www.westerndesignconference.com and on Facebook and Instagram.

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Digital Sourcebook

Available September 10th

This year’s Western Design Exhibit + Sale will be online through a new virtual marketplace.  SOURCE, COMMISSION + SHOP the Best of the West via our interactive Digital Sourcebook – online September 10. 

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