Jessica Kirchner and Lindsey Hubley are the new owners of the very popular Overland Expo, a camping and exploring extravaganza for the outdoors man and woman. They are also no strangers to staging large events. While these sisters were growing up, their dad had an event promotion company.
“We used to tear tickets at the gate. We did everything. We were slave labor. No kidding,” Kirchner said with a chuckle.
Based in Indianapolis, the two grew up learning the family business from the ground up, each carving out her own niche: Jessica, 37, in marketing, Lindsey, 36, in sales.
“Marketing and sales go together like peanut butter and jelly,” said Kirchner.
The girls stayed with the company for more than 20 years, along with their current business partner, Mike Moore.
“He got paid,” she said.
When the family business sold, the girls stuck around for a few more years with the new owner, before striking out on their own along with Moore.
The sisters joined forces in 2018 to form their own event solutions company, Lodestone Events.
Their mom and dad are mostly retired, but still keep a hand in the business, she said.
Just this past January, they purchased Overland Expo from founders Roseann and Johnathon Hanson and hit the ground running since there was so little time to plan and organize such a large event.
“We are working like dogs to make sure everyone has such a good time they talk about it all year,” she said.
Overland Expo is described as an international event that educates and inspires people to get out and explore the world by motorcycle and other vehicles.
Related classes are taught by leading experts; plus, there is a professional trade show that brings together all the latest motorcycle and camping equipment.
With the event celebrating its 10th anniversary in Flagstaff this month, the sisters are determined to grow it to its largest scale yet, while maintaining the original vision of the previous owners, to “inspire others to travel the world.”
Last year, more than 10,000 people attended the event and more than 300 vendors are expected this year.
Their best advertising is word-of-mouth, Kirchner said. They count on participants being so impressed that they come back next year and bring friends, and so on. The two expect to grow the event by 20 percent in two years.
This year there will be many giveaways, including a turtle-back trailer with a kitchen that pops up, she said.
“We are happy to welcome them [Overland Expo] back for their 10th anniversary and look forward to many more great years,” said Joe Galli, public policy senior advisor for the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce.
He said Flagstaff is perfect for such an event because it offers all four seasons and of course any time a big event anchors itself in Flagstaff, people are eating, shopping and overnighting. “This is great for Flagstaff restaurants, retail and hotels,” he said.
It is also a way for people who have never visited Fort Tuthill County Park to be introduced to it and for others to see the recently refurbished fairground area, said Brian Grube of Coconino County Parks and Recreation.
The expo is scheduled for May 17 through 19 at Fort Tuthill County Park in Flagstaff.
All tickets must be purchased in advance online at firstname.lastname@example.org. FBN
By Patty McCormac, FBN