After spending Saturday morning attending a seminar about ways to eat healthy while on the road in their recreational vehicle, David and Brenda Franklin of Nashville, Tenn., spent the afternoon at The Rally in Louisville, Ky., meeting new friends at a rally billed as the nation’s largest RV event.
“We retired about five years ago, bought an RV and we’ve been on the road ever since,” David Franklin told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “The only time we don’t travel is during the winter months, unless we have a wedding or some sort of event out of town.”
The Franklins were among thousands of RV enthusiasts who were in town since Wednesday (July 21) to attend the four-day rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
“People come for a variety of reasons,” said Sue Bray, an official with the Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) of Ventura, Calif., a leisure-industry company that organized the rally. “They come to be entertained, to learn and to shop. They also come because they like being part of a community.”
The event also is intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RV industry.
Bray estimates that 2,500 to 3,000 RVs were parked at the Kentucky Exposition Center and at nearby Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium lots. She said organizers expected up to draw up to 15,000 people from across North America throughout the four-day event.
Affinity estimates that the event had an economic impact of $11 million, making it one of the more lucrative conventions or trade shows held in Louisville this year.
The annual RV rally was first held in 2000 in Wyoming; it was last held in Louisville in 2003. It was in Albuquerque, N.M., last year and is planned for Redmond, Ore., in 2011.
“We love Louisville and this facility,” Bray said of the Expo Center. “It’s really a good fit for us.”
The rally offered attendees a chance to see the latest in RVs. They could test drive and arrange to buy vehicles from among the hundreds to be displayed on site. There was also a trade show consisting of 300 booths on display, selling RV-related products and services.
The RVs on display ranged in cost from a $15,000 travel trailer to a $2 million coach.
Stephen Cooper, a salesman with Parliament Coach Corp., said attending the rally gives his company “a chance to plant a seed and get our name out there.”
“We rarely sell a coach at a show,” he said. “We just like to show people what we can do.”
The RV that Cooper brought is a 45-foot motorcoach valued at about $2 million.
“We custom-build the vehicles, just like many people do with their homes,” he said.
The rally also featured a dog show on Friday and a two-day pet adoption event for dogs and cats in need of a good home.
“RVers love their pets,” Bray said. “About 50% of people who own an RV bring their pets with them when they travel.”
Bray said four dogs and one cat were adopted through Louisville Metro Animal Services on Friday.
AGI is the parent company of RVBUSINESS.com.