Expo Riva Schuh & Gardabags was born almost by chance at the end of the 1960s, thanks to a small group of Italian and German wholesalers and representatives led by Friedrich Karl Eichholz who gathered twice a year at Lake Garda for a 10-day business event. These meetings were held in hotels scattered around the lake, in close contact with the local community.
Over time, the number of trade visitors grew more and more – also thanks to the fact that the gatherings were held at convenient times – so much so that the fair had to find a new location: the Palazzo dei Congressi (Congress Centre) in Riva del Garda. It was 1974 when the first edition of the trade fair, which a few years later would be known as 'Expo Riva Schuh', was officially opened.
Organised by Riva del Garda Fierecongressi SpA, with the help of its founder Friedrich Karl Eichholz, year after year the event became more and more popular in the European footwear market and a larger venue was needed; therefore, the Palafiere was built, which is still the main venue of the event.
In the early 2000s, internationalisation became one of the main objectives of the fair – which was also held in the United Arab Emirates and India – as well as a key growth accelerator that led it to become the leading international fair dedicated to footwear and leather goods at global level.
Its distinctiveness as a multi-venue trade fair – the forerunner of a highly successful trade fair model – and the leisure atmosphere that characterised it in its early days continue to this day and make it a unique experience for exhibitors and visitors alike.
1974: opening of the first fair
1977: the fair is named 'Expo Riva Schuh'
1989: the Palacongressi is founded
1992: Expo Riva Schuh has 27 exhibition venues (multi-venue trade fair)
1996: a 21,000-square-metre Palafiere is built
2003: arrival of the first groups of Chinese companies
2006: Focus County India – Indian Delegation
2007: Focus County Brazil
2008: Expo Riva Schuh Middle East
2011: Expo Riva Schuh India
2017: first edition of Expo Riva Schuh Around the World
2019: debut of Gardabags
2021: first 100% online edition of Expo Riva Schuh during the pandemic
2022: launch of the Hybrid Service and launch of an international network