The Springfield, Mass., RV Camping and Outdoor Show, marking its 50th year, will open Friday (Feb. 17) and run for four days at the Eastern States Exposition Center.
According to a report by The Republican, the show attracted some 37,000 attendees last year and has grown over the years to become one of the longest-running shows of its kind in New England.
Visitors will find exhibits by many major RV dealers who offer a wide range of equipment from basic pop-up tent trailers to luxury RVs, as well as campgrounds and dozens of outdoor equipment and camping specialty suppliers. Over 200 exhibitors will set up displays in several buildings on the fairgrounds.
“Campgrounds today are getting more family-oriented,” said show chairman Angelo Zeni. “They’re not just selling space, but offering activities and amenities. You’ll find Christmas in July celebrations at some camps and pot luck dinners, as well as some bringing in bands to perform and offering everything from pools to game rooms and even Wi-Fi.”
Travel Town Trailers of Southwick, one of the many RV dealers attending this weekend’s show, has been with the event since its inception. A family owned business since 1962, the company has its own niche in the RV industry selling park models.
“We don’t go to a lot of shows, but this is one of the best. It’s all done with volunteers who are members of a campground association,” said owner David Spillane. “We’ve been through all the cycles, the ups and downs of the RV industry, and without a doubt, we have been seeing an upswing in the past few years. People are always going to have leisure time, and they may give up some other things, but they’re always going to want to enjoy their vacation whether its RVing or participating in other recreational sports.”
He added, “What we are selling are recreational park trailers for destination camping that look like actual homes. We deliver these trailers to where the buyer wants them. Then, as part of destination camping, they leave their home on Friday in their own car, which is more economical, and usually travel one or two hours away, only to return home on Sunday.”
In honor of the 50th annual show, organizers will be awarding a grand prize of $5,000 to some lucky attendee who deposits their admission ticket in the prize area in Mallary Arena. The show is produced by volunteer members of Pioneer Valley Chapter 8 (PV8) of the North American Family Campers Association (NAFCA).
In a direct response to the sagging economy, Brian T. Beaver, co-owner of Beaver Camper in Agawam, Mass., brought several Little Guy teardrop camper trailers to the annual Springfield RV Camping and Outdoor Show, according to the Springfield, Mass., Republican.
The little teardrops are significantly smaller than the luxury homes on wheels-style recreational vehicles also sold at the show. They range from 96 inches long to 212 inches long. The interior houses a bed; an optional gas grill is outside.
Beaver said the teardrops can be towed by 4- and 6-cylinder cars and are an eco-friendly alternative. He said they found that many people bought small, fuel-efficient vehicles that cannot tow larger campers.
“We’re changing with the times. People are still going camping, but not as far and not as often,” Beaver said.
He said he sold three of the teardrops, which cost $4,000 to $9,000. They have a certain nostalgia factor as well – this type of trailer was popular after World War II, Beaver said.
Longview RV salesman James W. Worden, who works in the company’s Windsor Locks store, said there has been “a lot of positive interest” regarding recreational vehicles, something he attributes to the economy turning around.
The show, at the Eastern States Exposition (“Big E”), featured all sizes and types of recreational vehicles, information from more than 100 campgrounds, and dozens of outdoor equipment and camping specialty suppliers.
Part of the charm of attending the show is going inside the various models and checking out the amenities. Four women comfortably sat inside a $52,782 Montana recreational vehicle, sipping drinks and talking RVs.
“This is very comfortable,” said Heidi L. Kallinich, of East Hampton, Conn.
“Like a home away from home,” said Diane L. Hall, of Rocky Hill, Conn., who said she wants to buy one just like it.
Stepping out of a spacious Silverback with a price tag of $44,790 was Timothy D. Valk, of Saugerties, N.Y., who announced, “You can have a dance in this one.” He said he and his wife had two RVs.
Alicia M. Duquette, a show co-chairman, said the show has been produced for 48 years by volunteer members of the Pioneer Valley Chapter 8 of the North American Family Campers Association.
“People plan their vacations here,” Duquette said.
Trends she noticed included dealers bringing smaller trailers to the show, and more trailer rental companies, for people who are thinking about buying a recreational vehicle but who want to try it out first.
Duquette said they are trying to promote the “staycation,” where people stay close to home for vacation. With a recreational vehicle, that can be easily accomplished, she said.
She said Friday’s attendance was up compared to the previous year – 2,613 to 2,425.
The show kicked off Friday and will continue its run at the “Big E” through today.