For the first time in history, Gateway Outdoor Expo will truly live up to its title. It will finally be held outdoors on March 31-April 1 in the lush setting of Tower Grove Park.

The free, family-friendly event began in 2002 and has been run under a variety of different names and ownerships. However, the common thread was that it was always held indoors.

Gateway Outdoor Expo

2022 Gateway Outdoor Expo (Russell Ward photo) 

During those latter years, Ballwin resident Brad Kovach, who resides on the doorstep of Castlewood State Park and is the editor and publisher of Terrain Magazine, was an exhibitor at the event, which was owned by local nonprofit Trailnet.

2022 Gateway Outdoor Expo

2022 Gateway Outdoor Expo (Russell Ward photo) 

“The show was up for sale or it was going to disappear. We approached Trailnet and St. Louis Bicycle Works, which had a hand in that show, and said, ‘Hey, we’re this outdoor magazine. This is kind of right up our alley, and we’re in a position to handle events along these lines if that’s OK with you?’  We purchased it from them about seven years ago.”

Under the guidance of Kovach, the event was held at the Gateway Center in Collinsville and St. Louis Union Station.  Then, after a two-year, COVID-related absence, it was held last year at America’s Center.

“We’ve had people ask us, ‘Why is your outdoor expo indoors?’ The honest answer would be because you wouldn’t have a lot to worry about. But even with possible questionable weather, we’re mostly hearty outdoors people. So, this year, it will finally be outdoors.”

Kovach expects some 200 exhibit booths and 8,000 attendees for the 2023 event. Go! St. Louis, which administers the region’s largest running event, has often partnered with Gateway Outdoor Expo. As such, packets for the Go! St. Louis Marathon, held downtown on April 1 and 2 as part of Family Fitness Weekend, can be picked up at the Expo.   

River City Outdoors (RCO), a nonprofit whose mission is to help create a variety of outdoor recreational experiences for St. Louisans from all socioeconomic backgrounds, is also involved in presenting the Expo. Kovach is on the steering committee of RCO, which works closely with the Boys and Girls Club and St. Louis Public Schools to be the facilitator to get youngsters connected with outdoor groups for a variety of experiences.

2022 Gateway Outdoor Expo

2022 Gateway Outdoor Expo (Russell Ward photo) 

In addition to showcasing a plethora of outdoor gear, services and resources, interactive event highlights include:

• Technical tree climbing, sponsored by Vertical Voyages.

• A 23-foot-high rock climbing wall of varying difficulties, sponsored by Upper Limits.

• Mountain bike demo area, sponsored by Wheels Up Bike Camps and Clinics.

• Balance bike demo area for the very young, sponsored by St. Louis Bicycle Works.

• A wide variety of hiking, camping, running and paddling activities.

• Resources for adventure travel, health and wellness.

• Special giveaways. 

“The idea is to let folks know what outdoor resources are available in the region.  They include outdoor retailers and shops, plus manufacturers that exist in the St. Louis or Midwest region," Kovach explained. "Purchases help the local outdoor economy. (The Expo also introduces) assets like what parks and trails there are and what outdoor services are available, such as guides or Meetup groups for folks to get outdoors with. We want to foster that community. 

“Some people just come out because they’ve been stuck inside for a few months. It’s a good time to see your friends that maybe you haven’t seen for a while. It’s also a good place to get psyched for the rest of the year with plans to get outdoors.”

Kovach said he started Terrain from his home in January 2014 as a passion project, hobby or side hustle. He had been a magazine journalist for some 20 years while also working for other companies. 

Terrain Magazine

Terrain Magazine (Jeffry Greenberg photo)

“When I started Terrain, it was my way to do something for myself. I already had the professional knowledge for magazines. From a focus side, I’ve always been very outdoorsy, going to summer camps and being into canoeing, backpacking, hiking and anything else outside. Since I found no existing periodical serving that need specifically, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s been great; nine-plus years and we’re still going,” he said. 

The Expo will be preceded by a VIP/Vendor Party on March 30 at Schlafly Tap Room Brewhub. VIP ticket information and additional details about the Expo are  available at

2022 Gateway Outdoor Expo

2022 Gateway Outdoor Expo (Russell Ward photo)