International Trade Fair for Sport, Camping, and Garden Lifestyle

From 31st August till 2nd September 2008 spoga, International Trade Fair for Sport, Camping, and Garden Lifestyle will open its doors in Cologne for the 50th time. Even the first spoga was viewed as a great success with 380 exhibitors and 11,000 visitors. Today the trade fair, in combination with gafa, International Garden Trade fair, holds the top position amongst garden and leisure fairs worldwide.

Before the 2nd World War, sport item manufacturers were already exhibiting their products at the Leipziger Messe. After the war the Leipziger Messe wasn't available for western manufacturers anymore. As a result, on the initiative of the Federal Association of the German Sports Goods Industry (BSI), the decision was made to shift the event to Cologne, following a guest appearance in Wiesbaden. Cologne was regarded as a good location because alongside the sports and camping industry, spacious garden furniture was moving ever more centre-stage.

So it was that from 7th till 10th January 1960 spoga took place for the first time as the "International Trade Fair for Sport Articles, Camping and Garden Furniture" in Cologne - in parallel to "Baby". With 380 exhibitors and almost 11, 000 visitors, the first spoga was a considerable success. In 1961, the fair took place under the name "spoca" - the garden furniture manufacturers had tried to establish their own event for a year but soon abandoned the enterprise. Afterwards, the fair returned to the scene again under the name "spoga". In 1961 the trade fair took place twice. Afterwards, however, it settled for one date in autumn, at first in October and then in September. In 1967 spoga encompassed three additional halls and covered a total area of 10, 000 square metres. It also now incorporated the product groups water sports and hobby angling. In 1972 the number of exhibitors rose over 1, 000 for the first time. Since 1982, spoga has always run from the Sunday till the following Tuesday.

gafa, International Garden Trade Fair, has run parallel to spoga ever since 1973. Prior to that gafa belonged to the Household and Hardware Fair. As of 1979 the manufacturers of sports clothing and shoes found a new home in the ISPO in Munich. At the same time, spoga and gafa continued to build on their position as the world's leading trade fairs in the garden and leisure market. Equestrian sports also decided on the whole to remain in Cologne. At the instigation of the equestrian sports unit of the Federal Association of the German Sports Goods Industry (BSI), the International Equestrian Sports Centre was founded in 1980. In 2008, the newly named "spoga horse" started as an independent fair at the trade fair.

In 1990 visitor checks at the areas linking spoga and gafa were abandoned. Since then, the two events publish joint figures. This year spoga+gafa are expecting around 2, 400 exhibitors from 60 countries.

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