A Conversation with OutdoorFest Founder Sarah Knapp
Ever dream about starting an event that would bring together thousands of people who are passionate about the same things you are? Sarah Knapp, founder of OutdoorFest, brings the outdoors to New York City through hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, climbing, slacklining and other outdoor sports. We caught up with Sarah to learn about how she got started, what she’s up to now, and to ask her advice about how to follow our dreams as well. Here’s a glimpse into the convo:
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not running OutdoorFest? Where do you live?
I live in Brooklyn and (not surprisingly) enjoy climbing, hiking and yoga when not working. I also spend a lot of time trying to convince my dad and my brother that outdoor adventure is the best. Last winter we summited Kilimanjaro together, this past summer was Yosemite and next summer we’re looking at a trek in Sweden.
When did you fall in love with the outdoors? How do you usually get your fix?
I grew up traveling both nationally and internationally and have always loved exploring. I didn’t connect with the nature side of exploration until high school when I joined the ski team, found the hiking club and was given funds to go on an Outward Bound trip. On a daily basis, my bike definitely helps me get my fix. The people you see, the smells, the surprising views add a huge unknown (plus a clean and healthy form of transportation) to my daily “grind.”
What was your motivation to start OutdoorFest?
My personal motivation for OutdoorFest came through a mix of experiences. I went to NYU, enjoyed NYC, and explored nature pretty infrequently. After graduation, I moved to Utah to live as a ski bum and found seemingly limitless outdoors but none of the elements of a fast paced, culturally diverse city I had grown to love. My dream is to create and nurture that space in between and that’s the core behind OutdoorFest.
What was the hardest part about making it happen?
I actually just wrote an article about one element of this: my age. Another huge element at the beginning was accepting this path. It’s a huge decision to leave a comfortable job and start something completely solo. I didn’t have a hard time making the decision to start but after I started- just wrapping my head around the full reality of it.
Do you have any advice for Pink Pangea readers who might be interested in creating a similar event in their hometown?
Well, if there are any outdoorsy folks out there who love community I’d love to hear from you! This is still in development (you heard it first at Pink Pangea), but we’re working on expanding our monthly adventure meetup, Mappy Hour, to other cities so we’re looking for enthusiasts all over. As for starting your own company or event: start with writing a business plan. Going through that process makes you really think about what, why, how and the scope of your idea.
What’s new at OutdoorFest this year?
I spilled it above. We’re not officially announcing our next city yet but we promise Pink Pangea members will know first.
Do you have any advice for readers who absolutely love the outdoors, but don’t get the chance to get out there often? How do you balance city life and your love for the outdoors?
This is my favorite question ever! I think it’s a matter of priorities and not letting yourself be disconnected from your passions. There are ways to get outdoors from the city, it’s just that for us city dwellers it can be a little tougher. It’s always worth it though.
What’s next on your travel list?
Well… Winter is my season and skiing my passion sport so a big snowy mountain is next! While I don’t have any specific plans yet, I’m lucky to have friends everywhere from Alta (Utah) to Stowe (VT) to Chamonix (France) so it’s just a matter of putting the puzzle pieces together.
Photos for A Conversation with OutdoorFest Founder Sarah Knapp by Sarah Knapp.