The Elkhart County Fairgrounds, situated in the heart of RV country in Goshen, Ind., has become a focal point for RV clubs to host high-profile member rallies.
As reported by the Elkhart Truth, the approximately 280 coaches affiliated with the Ramblin’ Pushers Chapter 419 are currently occupying the grounds. Several other rallies are scheduled through the end of October.
The gatherings have provided a boon for the local economy, pumping tourist dollars into area businesses while giving the host of RV manufacturers and dealers some key exposure with buyers.
To read the Elkhart Truth article click here.
Management at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Northern Indiana expects a normal season for RV rallies this year, despite the uncertainty of gas prices this summer.
Ten rallies, with attendance ranging between 100 and 300 rigs each, are on tap this season, starting with the Holiday Rambler Pusher 419 Rally set for April 30 to May 5.
“That’s about typical what we do,” Tanya Swihart, rental manager, told RVBUSINESS.com. “In light of everything, I’d say it’s a very good year.”
The fairgrounds, located on the edge of Goshen, can accommodate up to 900 units. In years past, big events, such as those featuring the Escapees RV Club, have nearly filled the fairgrounds. But such large groups are not booked for this season.
Swihart has yet to receive registration estimates from event sponsors to say which rally might be the largest, but does know that the Holiday Rambler event will likely draw 300 rigs.
Up to now, she has yet to receive any cancelations for the season and doesn’t expect any.
The fairgrounds site has become popular since operators upgraded the site more than a decade ago. It is conveniently located to many RV manufacturers. The Elkhart County Convention and Tourism Bureau assists groups in planning tourist activities while attending the rallies.
The 2011 rally schedule follows:
- Holiday Rambler Pusher 419 Rally – April 30-May 5.
- International Area Organization (INTO) Rally – May 11-15.
- Heartland Rally – June 15-19.
- RVFEST 2011 Rally – June 20-27.
- Passport America Rally – Aug. 16-20.
- SunnyBrook Rally – Aug. 21-27.
- GMC Motorhome Rally – Sept. 9-15.
- Montana Owners Club Rally – Sept. 21-28.
- Thor Diesel Rally – Oct. 2-7.
- RVing Women Rally – Oct. 8-16.
The Escapees RV Club is not the only RV group assembling this year at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, Ind.
Some 2,500 RVs are expected during 17 RV rallies and groups meeting at the fairgrounds, starting next month.
The fairgrounds has hosted RV travel rallies since the mid-1970s.
“Over the past decade we have focused on RV rallies as our main source of ‘non-fair’ revenue,” said Kristine Ambrosen, marketing director. “It makes sense for our facility to be used to host these gatherings. We already have the camping facilities, large buildings and staff in place due to the Elkhart County 4-H Fair. If it wasn’t for the RV rallies, the majority of our facilities would remain idle 11 months a year.”
Not only do the RV rallies benefit the fair facilities, they also contribute to the local tourism, bringing in millions of dollars.
“RVers benefit local businesses by patronizing restaurants, stores and RV repair shops,” Ambrosen noted.
Elkhart County has been labeled the RV Capital of the World, where over 50% of RV’s are manufactured.
“We want to support the RVing lifestyle in any small way we can because it benefits our community and the livelihood of many of our neighbors,” Ambrosen said. “Our staff views our regular RV-ers as more than business associates, in many cases they have become our friends. We look forward to seeing them each year if it is with an organized rally or they just stop in for a few nights when they are passing through.”
The fairgrounds also hosts year-round public camping.
The following is a list of this season’s rallies and groups and the dates they will be visiting the fairgrounds:
- Holiday Rambler Pusher 419 Rally – May 2-7.
- Barth RV Group – May 13-16.
- Cardinal Owners RV Group – May 13-16.
- East Coast Pullers Group – May 17-21.
- Suite Owners Indiana Chapter Group – May 20-23.
- NAARVA – May 30-June 6.
- Carriage Group – June 10-13.
- National Deaf Rally – June 11-20.
- RVFEST 2010 Rally – June 21-28.
- Summit City Sam’s Group Aug. 6-8.
- Newmar 25th International Rally – Aug. 14-21.
- Escapade Rally – Sept. 8-17.
- Kountry Kampers Group – Sept. 21-28.
- Montana Owners Group – Sept. 22-29.
- Hoosier Cruisers Group – Sept. 23-26.
- Jayco RV Club/Starcraft RV Club Rally – Sept. 30-Oct. 3.
- Mandalay Travel Club Rally – Oct. 4-9.
The owners of about 190 Holiday Rambler diesel pusher motorhomes manufactured by Monaco Coach Corp. — members of the Ramblin’ Pushers chapter of the national Holiday Rambler RV Club — are gathered this week at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, Ind.
“We don’t call it a rally,” said chapter President Dick Reidenbach of Indianapolis. “We call it a maintenance session and we will have almost 100 technical sessions over the course of the week.”
“The mission of our chapter is to help educate members on the operation and repair of Holiday Rambler diesel pushers,” Reidenbach said.
This evening (May 4) roundtable sessions will be conducted among owners of the various Holiday Rambler brands. “One of the greatest sources of information for resolving problems with a motorhome are people who own the same coaches that you do,” Reidenbach said.
All this as Monaco Coach Corp., Coburg, Ore., which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, awaits finalization of a $52 million deal in bankruptcy court through which most of Monaco’s assets are to be sold to Chicago-area based Navistar International Corp.
Pat Carroll, Monaco Coach Corp. vice president of product development, was in attendance at the Elkhart County rally as was Veurink’s RV Center, Grand Rapid, Mich., the oldest Holiday Rambler dealership in the country.
“Pat Carroll told us that it’s been a long six months, but that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that Monaco is definitely on the uptick,” said Reidenbach, who three weeks ago bought a Holiday Rambler Navigator for cash from Lazydays RV SuperCenter in Seffner, Fla., was pleased with the turnout.
“I felt like Monaco is big enough and that the Navistar thing is down the road far enough so that something good is going to happen,” Reidenbach said.
Although turnout for the gathering is about 10% less than it was last year, Reidenbach said those attending are in good spirits. “Honestly, the mood here is pretty upbeat,” he said.
And he is equally pleased that the club was able to draw nearly 400 people to Elkhart County.
“We are absolutely delighted with the attendance, given the condition of the RV industry,” said the Eli Lilly Co. retiree. “We feel like it’s a big success.”