They looked a bit out of place, surrounded by all the gray hair, the hawkers of hearing aids, a booth promoting cremation services and assorted vendors of electric scooters and customized golf carts.
But the Korczynski family felt right at home Saturday while looking for a new home on wheels at The RV Spectacular sponsored by the London and St. Thomas RV Dealers Association In Ontario, Canada.
The London News Press reported that Paul and Jenna Korczynski, with nine-year-old twins Brooke and Tyson in tow, came from Kitchener for the recreational vehicles show at Western Fair District.
The event draws about 8,000 visitors and is squarely targeted at an older, rather affluent crowd that can plunk down $100,000 or more for a motorhome, trailer or “park model” trailer.
Proud owners of a 26-foot fifth-wheel trailer, the young Korczynski family was looking at some 30-foot trailers, retailing for about $40,000 and dreaming of the possibilities.
“It’s a lot of money,” Paul conceded, “but we’re looking for a trailer with bunks for the kids so they can bring friends along.”
The construction worker said traveling across Canada and in the U.S. is a wonderful way to vacation as a family. They’ve been to Prince Edward Island, around Lake Michigan and they’ve stayed at Cedar Point in Ohio.
With high gas and grocery prices, the family likes travel in the U.S. to keep costs down, he and Jenna agreed.
So they were kicking the tires of a few units and dreaming of future trips that could be so much nicer with just a few more feet of living room.
Eight major retailers of trailers and motorhomes were on display.
At Forest City Motorhomes, co-owner Rick Goertz said his company has just come off its best two years. It sells 80 to 100 new and used motorhomes each year. New units range from $70,000 to more than $300,000.
“Seventy-five to 80% of our customers just come in and write a check,” he said. There is no need for financing. Most are retired businessmen and farmers who have been careful with their money for decades and decide it is time to splurge.
Goertz has no explanation for such strong sales when other parts of the RV business have been “pretty flat.”
A few feet from him was a 42-foot Itasca Meridian motorhome resembling a highway coach that usually retails for nearly $322,000 but was being offered at a “show price” of $257,700. The gleaming monster delivers about eight miles to the gallon, he said, but includes everything from a washer and dryer to home theatre, fireplace and bedroom ceiling fan.
Forest City Motorhomes sells one or two of those units a year and buyers able to spend that kind of money aren’t fazed by the gas consumption, he said.
Goertz said crowds appear up from previous years and he expects to engage in serious conversations with about 200 potential customers before the event ends.
The British Coulmbia Interior RV Show, the first full complex event at the South Okanagan Events Center (SOEC), is expected to draw at least 10,000 people from all over Western Canada to Penticton.
“Mayor (Jake) Kimberley and the previous administrative staff at the City of Penticton, before the SOEC was built, had a vision of what could take place with our convention center and opportunities that Penticton presents as an area for those not only to come and visit, but to be able to bring conventions and the like of what we are talking about here. The creation of the South Okanagan Events Center went a long way towards that,” said Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton.
Pentiction Western News reported that the B.C. Interior RV Show, taking place from May 4 to 6, will be the first full complex event encompassing the events center, Okanagan Hockey School arena, Memorial Arena and the Penticton Trade and Convention Center.
Utilizing the complete nine acres of city property has been a vision of SOEC general manager Dean Clarke since he first arrived in Penticton in September of 2010, having previously worked at Kelowna’s Prospera Place. Clarke said a trade show of this size could have more impact than hosting a concert at the events center.
“Yes, absolutely. I think it’s going to impact everyone. It is going to impact our revenue, impact their revenue and it is going to impact the restaurants, hotels, everyone. It keeps our people employed,” said Clarke. “This is the investment our citizens have made in this infrastructure, and we need to show the results and I think we are.”
The event will feature RV dealers displaying the best brands in the industry. Factory representatives from leading RV manufacturers will be on-site to speak with the public and answer questions.
Okanagan Hockey School will also host RV units as well as boats. Memorial Arena will feature RV accessories, leisure equipment and lightweight camping trailers. In the Penticton Trade and Convention Center, educational sessions and workshops will be held and more than 50 different vendors supporting the RV lifestyle will be promoting their products and services.
Al Mullins, president of the B.C. Interior RV Society, a non-profit that is comprised of several South Okanagan RV dealers that collaborated to put the event together, said the RV industry saw a downturn during the recession that closed operations such as General Coach in Oliver.
“We lost some key manufacturers out of the South Okanagan, but it is coming back again and coming back hard,” said Mullins.
One of the draws, he said, is the flexibility in the different types of units to suit budgets of young families to snowbirds who pick up and drive down south for the winter in RVs that have all the amenities of home.
“As one of my customers tells me, it’s not camping anymore, it is roughing it smoothly,” said Mullins.
He said a similar show in Edmonton did extremely well and one in the Lower Mainland had 16,000 people pass through the doors in four days. He expects people from all over the Pacific Northwest to come to Penticton in May for the RV show.
“This is the only complex in the Okanagan Valley that literally can hold this big of a show. We are going to fill this complex inside and out, drawing people from all over Western Canada and even the States. This is a must-see event,” said Mullins.