Northeast Florida RV dealers reported a steady stream of visitors during the inaugural fall RV show at the St. Johns County Fairgrounds in Elkton, Fla., last week. According to a press release, the host Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) said the event was a success, attracting more than 2,000 people to the venue over its four-day run, Oct. 10-13.
The event drew many attendees from surrounding St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and northern Volusia counties. Palm Coast residents Tom Ckee and his wife, Lisa, said they attended the show to get ideas on which type of RV they will buy later.
“We’re retiring in a year or two and we’re going to be buying a motor home,” Tom Ckee said. “This certainly beats traveling all over the place to see everything. It’s nice to have all the different RV types, from all the manufacturers, in one place.”
There were more than 200 new recreational vehicles on display at the fairgrounds, including motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels and tent campers. Peter and Donna Accorti, who live in St. Augustine, were at the show when it opened on Thursday to check out RVs for the very first time.
“It’s a beautiful place to have it, here at the fairgrounds where you can talk one-on-one with the all the salesmen, and there’s a lot less pressure in this type of environment,” Donna Accorti said.
The weather, which threatened to be a problem earlier in the week, cleared up in time for the Thursday opening to the relief of the RV dealers and vendors at the fairgrounds.
“Since it’s a first-time event, we really didn’t know what kind of crowd we were going to draw, but we did well,” said Ocean Grove RV Supercenter General Manager Rob Rothenhausler. “The weather was perfect, which is always good when you have an outdoor event like this.”
Camping World Inc. dealerships in St. Augustine and Jacksonville, which had 64 RVs on display, were positive about the decision to hold the fall event.
“We closed a couple of deals by noon the first day, so we knew it was going to be a good show,” said Camping World RV specialist Robert Houser.
Dick Gore, president of Dick Gore’s RV World, was impressed with the fairgrounds location – and the turnout.
“Everyone involved did their job and we had a great show,” Gore said. “The fairgrounds turned out to be a great facility.”
Gore said that each RV show is unique, and with the ever-changing designs and amenities being developed by manufacturers, there’s always something new to see.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve seen a lot of changes and it’s still changing as we go along,” he said. “Every year the manufacturers come up with something different. The lightweights have been big and that’s where the industry has been going the last few years.”
Rivers RV General Sales Manager Trevor Bild also said he was excited by the amount of interest the show generated.
“We had some very friendly people come by our display,” Bild said. “There was a lot of traffic and I was surprised that many of them were first-timers who had never been to an RV show before.”
Bild said Rivers RV sold 10 units through the show, which was a good number given it was the dealers’ first fall event in a new venue.
“We had expected more interest in campers and trailers, so we were surprised to sell two motorhomes at the event,” he said. “Next year, we’ll be bringing more motorhomes to display. And the weather couldn’t have been better. I just hope we get the same next year.”
Participating dealers included Camping World RV Sales (Jacksonville), Camping World RV Sales (St. Augustine), Dick Gore’s RV World (Jacksonville), Ocean Grove RV Supercenter (St. Augustine), Rivers RV Sales (Jacksonville) and General RV Center (Orange Park). All the dealers serve the northeast Florida market.
The same dealers plan to take part in the Jacksonville RV Show, scheduled for Feb. 13 – 16 at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center.