Recreational vehicle enthusiasts preparing to hit the highways this summer will appreciate the special features built into the Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T GPS navigation device, a portable unit designed especially for RVers, according to a news release.
The Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T is a full-featured, GPS navigation device designed for RV travelers with a high-definition, 7-inch touch screen; Heavy duty extension mount, Bluetooth connection to enable hands-free calling through the unit’s speakerphone; and free lifetime traffic alerts that warn drivers of delays and suggest alternative routes.
The new GPS device combines the core strengths of Magellan, the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owner’s organization and the Trailer Life RV Parks & Campground Directory. The directory, a must-have tool for RVers, provides over 11,700 comprehensive listings for the U.S. and Canada which includes: Wi-Fi and internet access, pet-friendly campground locations, the Good Sam Club discount locations, Trailer Life’s exclusive triple rating system, and other points of interest specific to RVers.
The Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T GPS also features special route preference settings for RVs and large vehicles. After the user enters the vehicle’s height, width, length and weight into the Magellan RoadMate Pro device, the unit will help the driver avoid such obstacles as low bridges, narrow roadway, and weight-limited streets.
“The Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T GPS has all the features to make navigating a large vehicle, like an RV, easier and more enjoyable,” said Stig Pedersen, senior director of product management, Magellan GPS. “The device alerts drivers to traffic problems, calculates the best possible routes for their oversized vehicles, and promotes safe driving. We’re thrilled to be teaming up with the Good Sam Club and Trailer Life Directory to incorporate features that are important to RVers, and help them find quality campgrounds wherever their travels take them.”
The Magellan RoadMate Pro features highway lane assist, spoken street names, multi-destination routing, and Magellan’s customizable OneTouch menu for favorite places and searches. It includes Magellan’s proprietary, built-in directory of more than 6 million points of interests in North America and Canada, from accommodations, coffeehouses and restaurants, to gas stations, shopping and health services. An A/V input in the device enables easy connection to back-up cameras, DVD players and iPods.
“The Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T GPS is the ideal navigation tool for RV drivers,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam. “Not only is it designed with features that make driving large vehicles more enjoyable, it helps campers find Good Sam certified campgrounds quickly and easily, so they can take advantage of their member discounts as they travel.”
The Magellan RoadMate Pro 9165T GPS will be available Aug, 1 at Good Sam Club, Camping World and Magellan’s retail channels for an MSRP of $399.99. To learn more, please visit www.magellangps.com/RV or www.goodsamclub.com/GPS.
According to Mapquest.com, the distance between White River Junction in Vermont and Redmond, Oregon, is 2,941.96 miles. More or less.
Tom and Karen Kilmer are driving the entire way, but never leaving their home or office.
Oregonlive.com reported that the Kilmers are among the 8,000 to 10,000 RV owners set to arrive in Redmond for the annual Good Sam Club RV Rally, the largest such gathering in the nation. It opens July 14.
If the pattern of early registrations holds, the club is expected to fill the Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center and possibly spill over to neighboring commercial RV parks and campgrounds. Volunteers who help organize the event will show up as much as a week early.
Good Sam is like the AAA for RV owners. It offers insurance, towing, repair shop recommendations and discounts at participating businesses, including the nationwide chain of Camping World stores, which is co-sponsoring the event.
“We’ve been doing a nationwide rally for the past 12 years,” says Sue Bray, a Southern California resident who is Good Sam’s West Coast coordinator for the event.
She says RV owners from all continental states plus Canada have registered.
“Most of them are from the West Coast,” she says. “It’s a long way to travel for some members, so we switch the sites from east to west every year.”
She says that even with the increase in fuel costs, most Good Sam members plan to continue using their motorhomes, campers and travel trailers.
“Our members use their RVs for an average of about 4,000 miles a year,” she says, “so the increase in cost isn’t enough to make a difference.
“If you get 10 miles per gallon, and even if the price goes up a dollar a gallon, it amounts to $400. I don’t think anyone is going to let their RV sit in the driveway all year for $400.”
Certainly not Kilmer.
He’s a national sales manager for Suburban Propane, and he’ll use his 38-foot Itasca motorhome as his rolling office, making sales calls across the country as he moves back and forth from one coast to the other.
By the time he and his wife arrive in Redmond, the fairgrounds will be transformed into a sprawling community of rolling homes, ranging from lightweight tent trailers designed to be towed behind compact cars to $500,000 wheeled mansions complete with propane-fueled fireplaces.
Roughly 500 vendors will fill row upon row of booths, selling accessories from headlights to tailpipes, and most everything in between.
“You find things for your RV that you never knew existed,” Kilmer said by telephone from Vermont, “and suddenly it is something you can barely live without.”
Bray says 600 to 700 new and used RVs also will be on display.
“We went to New Mexico two years ago and came home with the Itasca,” says Kilmer. “Hopefully our sales resistance will be a bit stronger this trip.”
Kilmer says what really draws him and his wife to the rallies are the people he’s made friends with over the years.
The week is heavy on entertainment, education and community service.
Seminars include topics such as eating well and exercising while traveling, training your dog for living on the road and controlling odors from holding tanks (hey, even the most expensive motor home still has its own Honey Bucket hidden under the fiberglass and fancy paint).
Country music star Vince Gill is the headline entertainment act. In an obvious appeal to the Boomer crowd (the largest demographic of the RV set), the stage also will host ’60s crooners Bobby Vinton and Peter Noone, known best for his time with Herman’s Hermits.
Some RVers arrive early to participate in a day of service to the area. This year they have “adopted ” the Redmond-Sisters Hospice and have volunteered to spend a day doing landscaping and helping to remodel resident rooms.
The rally gives back in other ways, according to Daniel Despotopulos, director of the Fair and Expo Center.
“Considering people hired by the vendors, restaurant meals, the hotel rooms that are rented, some of them for two weeks, we figure there is a $30 million impact on the community,” he says.
Despotopulos bases his estimates on two previous Good Sam rallies in Redmond, in 2005 and 2007.
“There is hardly a business that doesn’t benefit,” says Eric Sande, executive director of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce. He also says the impact goes far beyond the city.
“We see a lot of folks head to the coast or to Washington or even Alaska,” he says. “And we answer questions and give directions throughout the rally to visitors who want to go the Columbia River Gorge or into the wine country or see the Spruce Goose at McMinnville.”
Relaxing in a comfortable folding chair under the shaded coolness of a camper awning, Marilyn Reigle recently enjoyed catching up with friends during the Ohio Spring Samboree in Zanesville, Ohio.
“I’ve never been in Zanesville before,” she said. “I’m looking forward to the tours and good entertainment. It’s a relaxing time, and a way to get away from home.”
As reported by the Zanesville Recorder, Marilyn and her husband, Marvin Reigle, made the jaunt from Beaverdam, Ohio, to Zanesville this week because they didn’t want to miss a few days of fellowship and fun. They joined hundreds of like-minded campers at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds for the annual Samboree, organized by the Ohio Good Sam Club.
The Good Sam Club began more than 40 years ago with the goal of making RVing safe and enjoyable. Membership allows participants to share in benefits such as discounts at campgrounds, recreational vehicle stores, car rentals and emergency roadside service.
The official event dates are today (May 13) through Sunday, but many decided to make it a weeklong affair.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Esthermay Brooks, international Sambassador from Maryland. “You make lifelong friends from all over the country, you become family to each other and you’re never alone on the road.”
While some states have one major Samboree per year, Ohio has three, beginning with the Zanesville spring gathering. Upcoming events include the summer Samboree from July 14-17 in Wapakoneta, then the fall gathering from Sept. 16-18 in Coshocton.
Each event features a different theme; this week’s is “Wild Wild West.” The camping gala offers numerous activities from games and entertainment to vendors and local tours, many of which contain a western element.
“You’ll probably see some cowboys, Indians and teepees,” said Pat Spragg, who serves as a co-state director with her husband, Dave.
With uncertain economic times, fluctuating gas prices and other issues, participation numbers are down slightly this year. Wagonmaster Tom Nutter said 300 to 400 campers is the norm, but Spragg said pre-registration for this first Samboree of the year was about 289.
Regardless, hundreds of visitors of all ages gathered to pepper the fairgrounds with a variety of RVs.
“I always look forward to it,” Brooks said. “Good Sam is family-oriented and not just for ‘old’
Click here to watch a brief video on the following story, courtesy of KMVT-TV, Idaho Falls, Idaho.
The Jerome County fairgrounds in Idaho Falls, Idaho, was packed with recreational vehicles this past weekend.
KMVT-TV reported that RVs of all shapes and sizes started filling the fairgrounds a week ago. The campers are members of the Good Sam organization.
It meets a couple times a year at various places in Idaho.
Despite the price of fuel climbing up and up, about 110 RVs showed up to the organizers surprise. They expected around 80 RVs.
As well as conducting business, group members played games and socialize. Pretty much all the designated RV sites were taken up at the fairgrounds.
Recreation vehicles currently fill the parking lot of the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center in Shawnee, Okla.
Expo operations manager Michael Jackson expects more than $19,000 in lot rental fees from hosting the Good Sam Club RV rally this week. The center also will host a Fleetwood RV owners rally this summer.
Meanwhile, board members for the Expo Center are discussing repairs and upgrades to the parking lot, the Shawnee News Star reported.
“It would be nice for the parking lot to be fixed and the amenities upgraded,” Charlie Belew, RV owner from Wichita, Kan. said. “We come to several rallies here every year.”
Community Development and Planning Director Justin Erickson and City Engineer John Krywicki presented three landscaping options for board members to discuss.
Krywicki said the parking lot at the Expo Center would cost $1 million to resurface.
- The first option, including extensive landscaping to the entire parking lot and a grand entrance to the show barn complete with a decorative statue, would increase the cost to $1.4 million. “Just to replace the existing lot with no frills will cost $968,000,” Krywicki said. “I would not recommend just overlaying the properties.”
- The second option would landscape the parking lot south of the convention center and would increase the cost to $1.18 million.
- The third option would landscape the lot east of the convention center.
“After meeting with city commissioners we felt that the first option would hinder the functionality of the area,” Erickson said.
Kyrwicki said the landscaped areas would create natural buffer zones throughout the parking lot and would reduce the overall cost by reducing the amount of asphalt needed for the project.
The Expo Center parking lot was listed as the first priority in the capital improvement projects developed by city staff and commissioners.
“It’s amazing to be here and to see how many RVs are here,” City manager and board member, Brian McDougal said. “This is what I call economic development. We are currently working on a study to see how these conventions directly help our community.”
McDougal said the Good Sams rally attracted 300 RVs, with the larger rallies attracting more than 900 RVs.
“These are people eating in our restaurants and shopping at our stores,” McDougal said. “We have to be thinking about this facility over the next 20 to 30 years. Some of these plans would only add 20% to the maintenance cost to beautify the property. This can be done in phases and will bring people into the city.”
Jackson said the Expo received $45,000 from lot rental fees during the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally, that is scheduled to return to Shawnee in 2012.
“This facility adds to our overall economic development,” McDougal said. “We want a facility that everyone will want to come back to. We have that now, anything we do will only improve the facility.”
The Good Sam Club, world’s largest organization of RV owners, is throwing the biggest RV celebration in its history this week with a nationwide celebration in appreciation of its U.S. and Canadian members, including a new high-profile celebrity spokesman, a new racing affiliation, new club benefits and the opportunity for great savings on RV accessories at Camping World.
The celebration kicks off with the announcement of country music superstar Tim McGraw as a spokesperson for the Good Sam Club and the club’s support of McGraw’s 2011 “Emotional Traffic Tour,” according to a news release.
As part of the new partnership, McGraw will lend his image and voice to Camping World Retail SuperCenters through store signage and messaging. He will also be featured on the cover of the upcoming edition of the Camping World and Good Sam Club magazine, Highways. Camping World and Good Sam will offer their members and customers VIP ticket giveaways to McGraw’s “Emotional Traffic” tour and the chance to enter and win an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity in an upcoming sweepstakes.
And in another announcement, Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and his Wood Brothers Race Team will carry the colors of the Good Sam Club in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday (April 17) and in the NASCAR Sprint All Star Race on May 21. For the sport of NASCAR and for the legions of fans of Bayne and the Wood Brothers, the sponsorship from the Good Sam Club fits right in with the spirit of the camping club, whose members join together for outdoor excursions.
“I’m thrilled to have Tim McGraw, Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers on board for the national celebration weekend,” said Marcus Lemonis, CEO of the Good Sam Club and its sister company, Camping World.
Founded in 1966, the Good Sam Club is based loosely on the biblical Good Samaritan who offered to help a traveler in need. Good Sam’s now-iconic halo and wide grin still signify camaraderie among members and their willingness to offer aid to fellow RVers. Today, the Good Sam Club offers benefits including a 10% discount at thousands of Good Sam Parks nationwide. The Good Sam Parks are inspected and rated annually according to an exclusive Triple Rating System to ensure each park is clean, safe and comfortable plus meeting quality standards.
Good Sam Club is currently working to offer additional savings at Good Sam Parks as well as increase the number of quality parks in the network. The Good Sam Club is adding some great new benefits in the coming months in addition to members’ exclusive savings on RV insurance, road service, accessories, repairs, RV publications and more. Visit www.GoodSamClub.com for details.
“These additional benefits are designed to give our members even more ways to enjoy their travels and RV living,” said Sue Bray, Good Sam Club Member Benefits director. “We looked at ways the RV lifestyle has changed in the last few years, at how RVers are finding new ways to use and enjoy their motorhome or travel trailer. We wanted to find new ways that the Good Sam Club could help our members enjoy their RVs even more by making RVing more affordable, as well as to help new RV owners get into the lifestyle.”
Good Sam Club members will also enjoy special savings from Thursday (April 14) through Sunday during National Good Sam Club Days at Camping World, America’s largest retailer of RV and outdoor accessories and services plus new and used RVs. This year, the annual Good Sam Club Days has been extended for an extra day so RV, camping and outdoor enthusiasts have more time to take advantage of all the great savings!
National Good Sam Club Days will be celebrated at all Camping World locations nationwide and will include 4-Day-Only Coupon Specials, FREE daily seminars, FREE snacks and FREE lunch on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Good Sam Club members can also take advantage of additional money-saving offers on the purchase of a new or used motorhome, Emergency Road Service, installation fees and more. Plus, attendees can register to win a free year of Camping at the 1,700 Good Sam Club RV Parks nationwide. Coupons and additional information for the 4-Day Only Specials on products and services can be found in all Camping World retail stores and online at CampingWorld.com/goodsamdays.
“This week is a chance for Good Sam Club members to celebrate their lifestyle, for us to show our appreciation and for America to learn about how RVing with the Good Sam Club is second to none,” said Lemonis.
Camping World Chairman Marcus Lemonis has a plan that he believes will help ease both the short-term and long-term pain for the financially strapped RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.
And Lemonis, following his Sunday night “Celebrity Apprentice” appearance on national TV, is preparing to present that plan to a handful of industry players in a Tuesday (March 22) conference call.
In an effort to help the Hall meet its current financial obligations while also guaranteeing the facility’s long-term viability, the Chicago-based executive is essentially pledging a combined total of up to $325,000 — an amount that, in the final analysis, would make Camping World and the Good Sam Club one of the hall’s larger supporters.
“For starters, I propose a $100,000 grant from the Good Sam Club for naming rights for something at the hall that we would determine at a future date,” he said. “Additionally, we would contribute one-half percent of the Good Sam Club membership revenue going forward as an annual contribution from Good Sam members.”
As Lemonis noted, this contribution — driven by the Good Sam Club’s membership base — would fluctuate. But he also placed a minimum on the dollar amount. “It would be no less than $75,000 annually,” he added, noting that the Good Sam Club currently has a roster of approximately 880,000 members.
Lemonis also proposes the addition of a Camping World accessory store as a tenant of the hall, with its annual rent equal to the facility’s projected 2011 operating budget deficit, “not to exceed $150,000.” As envisioned by Lemonis, the Camping World retail outlet would be housed inside the hall’s existing infrastructure, not in a separate building, and would encompass only the company’s accessory items. “It would not include any portion of the RV sales business,” he said.
In order to ensure other revenue streams for the hall in addition to the Camping World and Good Sam Club contributions, Lemonis noted that his proposals are not without a few caveats.
“First, I would like the annual pledge by the Go RVing Coalition (to the Hall of Fame) to be paid on time, as promised,” Lemonis noted. “Also, I would like to see $2 from every Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) seal to go towards the operating budget of the hall. I believe that RV dealers across the country see the value in the Hall of Fame, and it’s the dealers who actually pay for those seals.”
The cost of the seals, lowered as of the first of the year to $20 per RV regardless of type, help to finance the Go RVing Coalition’s media and promotional buys for the year.
Lemonis also suggests adding more members to the Hall of Fame’s board of directors. “I’m not dictating who they should be,” he said, “but I think the board needs some fresh, new members who would provide business oversight and direction.”
Lastly, he pointed out the need for a show of support from the rest of the RV industry. “I’d like to see the Hall be able to raise on its own — from other manufacturers and suppliers — $250,000,” he continued. “I’ll do everything I proposed. But others also have to bring something to the table to help ensure that the Hall becomes and remains viable.”
After 15 years, Joe and Vicki Kieva’s popular column “RV Insight” will no longer appear in Highways, the monthly magazine of the Good Sam Club. The final column will appear in May, the RV News Service has reported.
“We got our pink slip,” said Joe Kieva.
Highways editor John Sullaway would not comment, but said an announcement in a future issue of the magazine would explain.
The Kievas began writing the column in February 1996. “Vicki and I were teaching classes about RVing at 11 Southern California community colleges back then,” said Joe. “Sue Bray of the Good Sam Club heard us speak and asked us if we wanted to write for the magazine. After three requests, we said yes.”
The Kievas spent the next 15 years writing their column and speaking at RV rallies, where they were often the headliners. When the RV economy hit hard times a few years ago, invitations to speak became few and far between.
In each column, the Kievas would separately answer a question from an RVer in a “he says, she says” style, most often about the RV lifestyle rather than technical issues.
Now, with no speaking engagements and plenty of time on their hands, the Kievas are preparing to hit the road for four months in their 36-foot Country Coach motorhome. “We’ll just bum around the country practicing what we preached through the years,” said Joe. “We’ll stop at places we didn’t have time to stop at before.”
The Kievas will continue to write a weekly column “RV Notebook,” which is part of the RVtravel.com blog network.
Affinity Group Inc.’s (AGI) Affinity Events division has added three new RV shows to its roster in 2011 for a total of 25, including management of the RV component of the prestigious Chicago Boat and RV Show Jan. 12-16 at McCormack Place.
”The RV side of that show has really gone down hill,” said Tom Gaither, AGI Events senior vice president. ”We are taking over the RV pavilion side of the Chicago show, which is a new venue for us. They realize we can make a difference.”
Other new shows include the South Carolina RV and Camping Show March 11-13 at the Greenville Convention Center and the New Mexico RV and Travel Show March 24-27 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Both shows previously had been organized by local dealers.
In 2010, more than 225,000 consumers attended AGI’s 22 RV shows which spanned the nation from coast to coast.
”We had a 24% increase in attendance at all of our shows last year,” said Gaither, a manufacturers’ rep for 15 years for Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., Pilgrim Inc. and Georgie Boy Manufacturing Inc. ”During the recession as customers went shopping on dealers’ lots, they saw a lot fewer floorplans. At our shows, people can look at all the RVs under one tent so they can compare.”
Gaither predicted that with RV sales on the rise coming out of the recession, show attendance in 2011 will be up across the board. ”I think dealers are finding pretty good leads at these shows — sometimes more than they will see on their lots all year,” he said.
The largest shows are the January Chicago Boat and RV Show, which draws in excess of 35,000 people, the Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation and Camping Show that brings in some 25,000 attendees and two Denver shows, the Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show in January and the Colorado RV, Sports, Boat and Travel Show, where attendance is in excess of 20,000.
Special programs are available for dealers, including posting RVs in a ”Screamin’ Deals” section on the website set up for each individual show. ”As consumers walk around the show site, they can look for the ‘Screamin’ Deals,” Gaither said.
And dealers participating in shows also can post 30 RVs for free on AGI’s rvsearch.com website for up to 30 days. ”I tell dealers to do it after the show so that they can carry the momentum over,” Gaither said. ”It’s another incentive to help the dealers sell.”
Primarily, AGI shows are staged almost weekly — sometimes more than one each week — between January and early April, and then kick in again in August through October at a somewhat reduced pace.
”The shows are mostly divided between spring and fall,” Gaither said. ”We do the shoulder seasons so that dealers can get a boost. We typically don’t do shows in the summer because dealers usually are busy with their lot traffic. The spring shows set up the summer season and the fall shows help dealers clean out inventory to help them get ready for spring.”
Two types of consumers attend AGI shows, Gaither said. ” There are people looking for RVs and people who have RVs who are looking for things to do with them,” he said.
For consumers buying RVs during a show, Affinity Events awards an ”RV Getaway Gift Package” valued at $500 that includes a one-year membership in AGI’s Good Sam Club along with a six-month membership in the Good Sam Club Emergency Road Service; a dry-camping site at AGI’s ”The Rally;” a one-year membership in Camp Club USA; a copy of the Trailer Life RV Parks & Campground Directory; and a subscription to Trailer Life or MotorHome magazines.
”It’s a nice starter package for somebody who just bought an RV,” Gaither offered.
Also for consumers attending a show, AGI presents educational seminars and activities that promote the RV lifestyle, including the Ultimate Camp Cooking Show with comedians Mike Faverman and Pat Mac; travel adventurer John Holod; and Dave Solberg, the ”RV Handyman” who advises consumers on what to look for when buying an RV, all of whom appear occasionally.
”We want to get people to want to use an RV,” Gaither said.
Here’s a rundown of AGI’s 2011 RV show lineup:
- Jan. 7-9 — 22nd Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show, Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
- Jan. 12-15 — 21st Annual Colorado RV Adventure Travel Show, Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colo.
- Jan. 12-16 — 81st Annual Chicago Boat, RV and Outdoors Show, McCormick Place, Chicago, Ill.
- Jan. 14-16 — 25th Annual Washington Camping RV Expo, Dulles Expo Center, Chantilly, Va.
- Jan. 21-23 — 44th Annual New Jersey RV and Camping Show, New Jersey Convention Center, Edison, N.J.
- Jan. 27-30 — Mid-America RV Show, Bartle Hall, Kansas City, Mo.
- Feb. 10-13 — 44th Annual Minneapolis/St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minn.
- Feb 11-13 — 26th Annual Richmond Camping RV Expo, Richmond Raceway Complex, Richmond, Va.
- Feb. 17-20 — 57th Annual Kansas Sports, Boat & Travel Show, Kansas Coliseum, Wichita, Kan.
- Feb. 18-20 — 22nd Annual Las Vegas Sportsmen’s RV & Travel Show, Cashman Center, Las Vegas, Nev.
- Feb. 25-27 — 21st Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show, Charlotte Convention Center, Charlotte, N.C.
- Feb. 25-27 — 16th Annual Atlantic City RV & Camping Show, Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J.
- March 3-6 — 54th Annual Colorado RV, Sports, Boat & Travel Show, National Western Complex, Denver, Colo.
- March 4-6 — 18th Annual Rhode Island RV & Camping Show, Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, R.I.
- March 11-13 — 7th Annual Virginia RV Show Hampton Roads Convention Center, Hampton, Va.
- March 11-13 — South Carolina RV & Camping Show, Greenville Convention Center, Greenville, S.C.
- March 18-20 — 22nd Annual North Carolina RV & Camping Show, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh, N.C.
- March 24-27 — New Mexico RV & Travel Show, Albuquerque Convention Center, Albuquerque, N.M.
- April 7-10 — 6th Annual Pomona RV & Travel Show, Pomona Fairplex, Pomona, Calif.
- Aug. 12-13 — Colorado RV Liquidation Super Sale, INVESCO Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
- Aug. 19-21 — 17th Annual Summer Boat & RV Super Sale, Richmond Raceway Complex, Richmond, Va.
- Sept. 9-11 — 10th Annual North Carolina Fall RV Show & Sale, Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.
- Sept. 23-25 — North Carolina Fall RV Show & Sale, The Park, Charlotte, N.C.
- Sept. 30-Oct. 2 — 14th Annual Fall Rhode Island RV Show, Rhode Island Convention Center, Providence, R.I.
- Oct. 28-30 — 18th Annual Fall Atlantic City RV Show, Atlantic City Convention Center, Atlantic City, N.J.
The Missouri Good Sam RV Club’s annual Samboree festival brought people from across the country to the Boone County Fairgrounds in Columbia, Mo., this weekend, where they ate, played games and visited with as friends while dressed like Jethro, Granny and Elly May Clampett, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
“How many times do you see people in their 60s to 80s put costumes on, let their hair down and just be silly?” asked Jane Huddleston of Springfield.
Huddleston has been attending Samborees, annual festivals sponsored by Good Sam RV Club chapters, for the past 16 years. Each year, she says, the festivals feature a theme, and this year’s is the Beverly Hillbillies.
But it’s not the themes that keep Huddleston coming back; it’s the friends she’s made. “The people really make it wonderful,” she said.
The Good Sam Club began more than 40 years ago when a group of RV owners put Good Samaritan bumper stickers on their vehicles. Today, the club boasts nearly 1 million families.
Maggie Brantley, an RV owner from St. Joseph who said she has attended 312 Samborees, agreed that making connections is the main event of each festival.
“It’s the people you meet from all different states,” she said.
“I think I know more people from different states than I do in my own hometown.”
Brantley, 75, has been to Samborees in 28 states and Canada since 1989 with her 89-year-old husband, Art.
Although Art no longer can drive the RV after suffering from numerous strokes, the couple still travels to three Samborees each year to see the people Maggie says are like family to them.
Don Woodard, a “Sambassador” from Texas, says most RV owners come back each year for that exact reason. “It’s like a family reunion,” he said.
The festivities at Samborees are fairly similar from town to town and typically include food, games and live entertainment.
“What people enjoy most is the fun, food and fellowship,” said Jean Gardner, director of the Missouri Good Sam RV Club.
The Missouri club also makes an effort to reach out to first-timers with meetings that include Q&A, refreshments and door prizes — such as gift certificates to local restaurants.
“Merchants have learned that when we give a free meal away, that person will bring three or four or 20 of their friends, so most of them are very willing to give away a free meal,” Gardner said.
Gardner said local merchants benefit a great deal from the event, which she said brought about 570 people to Columbia. By the end of the event, she estimated the RV owners will spend an excess of $40,000 at local businesses.
Gardner said that although food and fun are big attractions, building relationships and helping one another is the most important part of the event and the club.
“If you have tragedy, these are the people that will step up and be there for you,” she said.
Woodard nodded in agreement.
“These people are the best medicine in the world,” he said.
Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) is the parent company of the Good Sam Club and RVBUSINESS.com.