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Hershey Show Closes With Record Attendance

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September 18, 2017 by   Leave a Comment

With a total gate attendance of 64,242 — easily surpassing last year’s record of 57,692 — the 49th Annual America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., hosted by the Pennsylvania RV & Campground Association (PRVCA), was yet another sign the industry is humming along on all cylinders. (To view a slideshow scroll to the right side of the RVBUSINESS.com home page. Photos by Kirk Zutell).

“The Hershey Show is usually an indicator for what’s in store for next year,” PRVCA Executive Vice President Heather Leach told RVBUSINESS.com. “It looks like everybody’s predictions are right track.

“We were all very pleased with this year’s show,” Leach added. “All the dealers and exhibitors that I talked to said they had a wonderful show. A lot of dealers were having record days, so if they’re happy, we’re happy.

After opening to a steady drizzle on Wednesday (Sept. 13), Leach reported that the remainder of the show enjoyed ideal conditions. “It cleared up and was sunny and warm,” she said. “It really was perfect weather.”

 One of the industry’s signature events, the show began Sept. 11 with two industry-only days for education, training and final set-up before giving way to throngs of consumers who, due to newly enacted Giant Center requirements, needed to pass through metal detectors at the entry points.

Heather Leach

With more than 1 million square feet of display space in and around the Giant Center complex — the equivalent of 33 football fields — the event featured 45 manufacturers and more than 1,300 RVs as well as 158 suppliers and vendors.

Manufacturers and dealers reported the crowds were not only plentiful, but in a buying mood.

“It was the best I’ve seen in 10-plus years, attendance-wise and sales-wise,” said Scott Degnan, vice president and general manager of the Winnebago Towables Division whose Middlebury, Ind.-based manufacturing unit introduced an array of rebadged smaller, lightweight, Minnie-branded towables and a new series of Minnie Plus fifth-wheels at Hershey. “You’re probably hearing a similar thing from everybody else. But I would say that it was as good in terms of attendance and quality of people (qualified buyers) as I’ve seen in at least 10 years of going to Hershey. It was great.” 

“It was a great show – the best Hershey Show in history,” noted Mike Snell, vice president of sales and service for Erwin Hymer Group North America (EHGNA), whose company, located in Kitchener, Ont., introduced a new Corado Class B motorhome line at PRVCA’s show. “Part of that is that we have two brands now, which helped with the numbers. But even taking Hymer out of the equation, it was the best Roadtrek show we’ve had. It seems that the Class B segment’s really strong. We had lots of demand – lots of first-time buyers who had no trade-ins who are coming into the market and the B segment. As a result, we had a lot of entry level B products that did real well.” 

Without having final counts in hand, Jayco Inc. Towable Division Vice President of Sales Marc Hauser indicated Sunday that Jayco’s Highland Ridge unit by Saturday had already outsold last year’s totals and that, in his words, the overall Jayco towable division “blew it out of the park.” He added, “Jayco motors, especially Entegra Coach, also had a monster show.” 

“When you look at overall results compared to last year, both attendance and sales were up for us,” said Kevin McArt, general manager of Forest River Inc.’s r-Pod and Surveyor lines, noting that a wide spectrum of products, from lightweight towables to heavier trailers, were in demand. “Consumer attitudes were very positive, so all’s good on the Pennsylvania front.”

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