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North Dakota RV Dealers, Parks Ducking Downturn

July 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

The state of North Dakota, at least some of the score of RV dealerships spread out across the state as well as its campgrounds have apparently avoided the recession.

Kurt Leier, the sales manager for Capital RV Center Inc. in Bismarck, said the dealership’s two stores in the stateĀ sold a combination of about 900 RVS in 2008, which is its second highest earning year in its 23-year history, according to KFYR-TV, Bismarck.

“We’re stable here but what we’re seeing is probably not as many people traveling from other states to here with their families and things. Probably staying closer to home and camping,” Leier said.

Meanwhile, the Minot Daily News reported that area campgrounds are packed, loaded with people attending this week’s state fair in Minot and oil field workers who have signed long-term camping leases.

Owners of motorhomes and towable RVs that had the fair as a travel destination can consider themselves fortunate if they found an opening at a neighboring campground.

Fair-week travelers have filled available camping spaces this year, forcing campground owners to turn away business.

“The weekend was very busy and we’re always full during the fair,” said Sandy Boe, owner of KOA Campground east of Minot. “The phone has been ringing constantly. A lot of people were very upset because they couldn’t find a place. There’s a lot of angry people. It’s been a 24-hour-a-day job telling them that all my sites were taken.”

Boe welcomes the business she has received, particulary since the KOA Campground was hit by flooding this past spring and didn’t open for business until June 29. The campground contains 66 sites. Among the campers staying at KOA this past week was a family from Australia that had rented a camper in Florida and was in the process of touring the United States.

The Roughrider Campground west of Minot, nestled along the Souris River, has also had to turn away business during the fair.

“We don’t generally have to turn people away. It has been hard for us,” said Danielle Ballweg, owner of Roughrider Campground after telling a caller that there was no space available for his motorhome. “We don’t like to do that, but that has been the case.”

The Roughrider Campground has more than 80 sites. At late morning Thursday, several campers were packing up to leave and several others were waiting to take their spots.

“A group checks out every day and another group checks in every afternoon,” explained Ballweg. “It’s been great – more than busy. We’re overly filled several nights, especially last weekend, which was huge for us.”

Among those lucky enough to have a camping spot during fair week are several regular participants at the fair, including William Crowder of Moundsview, Minn. Crowder is better known as the bugling private who can be found roaming the Fur Trader’s Rendezvous at the fair.

“Yup. We have the bugler,” said Ballweg with a smile. “He’s well known at the fair and he’s been fun to have out here. He entertains us in the mornings and the evenings.”

Darold Swenson, owner of Valley View RV Park and Swenson’s RV, said his park has been 100% full. However, that has been the case at Valley View for most of the year since many oil field workers have signed long-term leases at Valley View.

“We actually added about 25 spots just a couple of weeks before the fair,” said Swenson. “But, with the oil activity, we had maybe just eight or 10 available when the fair started. It’s been a busy summer and has been for quite a while.”

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