The 11th Annual “The Rally,” sponsored by Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), opened this morning (July 22) with a rush of humanity bursting into the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, Ky.
“It was like opening the gates to a rock concert,” said Terry Thompson, AGI vice president of sales, RV media division. “We opened at 10 and you can’t walk through the aisles. It’s jammed wall to wall with people.”
The Rally has attracted the owners of more than 2,500 RVs from all parts of North America to enjoy the event, which includes some 1,000 new RVs on display, 500 vendor booths, 120 educational seminars and nightly entertainment.
For the first time, all exhibitor booths and RV displays are inside the KEC’s South Wing, which is an added bonus to this year’s event, as the weather outside is hot and humid.
“We knew it was hot in July in Kentucky but we didn’t know it was this hot,” Thompson said.
The Rally early-bird events got off to a good start Wednesday afternoon with a Coach Preview from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“It was jammed with people, units were sold, things went better than they expected. We don’t always have a preview but we’re glad we did it,” Thompson said.
He called The Rally a “shot in the arm” for the RV industry.
Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com, echoed Thompson’s observation on The Rally’s early going, from the bulging crowds to the manufacturers’ early responses.
“Manufacturers seem to be upbeat,” Goldenberg said. ”The Rally seems to be particularly well-timed, pulling together a nice number of consumers at a time there would have been no national event. They appear to be happy about that.”
Thompson added, “When you have every aisle in an hall selling product, it shows you they (consumers) are alive and kicking, using their units and buying new units. I view it as a great commercial for the RV industry. This is the heartbeat right here; these are the people getting it done.”
Thompson said show sponsors expect a big day crowd to attend the event, which runs through Sunday.
AGI President Mike Schneider noted The Rally’s growth since its inception 11 years ago.
“We’re at the level with the show where we want to be to help service the industry, where additional exposure to the RV lifestyle and additional sales opportunities are important. That’s where we see our role in both those areas,” Schneider said. “The event itself speaks to the vibrancy of the market and Affinity’s role as a conduit between the industry and the consumers. We see ourselves providing a number of different forums that the industry can reach the consumer when they are thinking RV. We do it through magazines, websites, shows and this rally, among other places.”
Schneider tonight will host the Good Sam Club’s Welcome Mat Awards program, which annually recognizes RV friendly business across the U.S.
Comedian Bob Newhart wil entertain the crowd tonight, with Tanya Tucker scheduled for Friday night.
Watch today’s Featured Video to see WDRB-TV’s telecast from The Rally.
Louisville, Ky., will be seeing a lot of out-of-town visitors this weekend. Not only is the HullabaLOU Music Festival underway at Churchill Downs, but the recreational vehicle lifestyle will be celebrated nearby at the Kentucky Exposition Center, WDRB-TV, Louisville, reported.
It’s a gathering of RV owners from around the country called The Rally.
Kathy and Michael Galgiani are a long way from their Carson City, Nev., home. But they are the kind of visitors any city would be glad to have. That’s because they spent a couple of hours Wednesday morning picking up litter at McNeely Lake Park in south Louisville.
“We always come in a day early on these rallies to help the community,” says RV owner Kathy Galgiani. “We have about thirty people here and we are just cleaning the grounds.”
Some 2,700 RVs are expected to fill the parking lots of the Expo Center during the weekend. Vendors on Wednesday morning were setting up their exhibits in the South Wing and Hall of the Expo Center.
“As you see, we have these great exhibits of RV’s and RV accessories on display,” says Sue Bray, a spokesperson with The Rally. “We also have about 120 seminars going on, all about the RV lifestyle.”
This is the 11th such gathering of RV owners. It’s the second time they’ve come to Louisville. This year the RV industry is celebrating its 100th anniversary. To mark its centennial, there is a collection of vintage RVs in the parking lot outside the South Wing.
“There are RVs from the 1930s, 1940s,1950s and 1960s, so you can really see the history and evolution of the vehicle,” adds Bray.
Roger and Barbara Pisa from Michigan are traveling in their 1962 restored Shasta RV. “We’ve replaced a lot of rotted wood up front and we’ve replaced the windows,” says Roger Pisa.
“I have a nice working stove, a microwave and a refrigerator, so life is good,” adds Barbara Pisa.
Some 7,000 people are expected to attend the gathering, resulting in an $11 million economic impact to the region.
The Galgianis plan to spend a little time and money around the area. “I think we are going to go downtown and do some things down there,” says Michael Galgiani, “and then after the rally we are going to spend some time in the bourbon area, and then Park City and the cave area and spend about a week there.”
The four-day RV rally begins on Thursday and runs through Sunday.
Louisville will be the recreational vehicle capital of the country this weekend, when thousands of RVs descend on the Kentucky Exposition Center for a four-day rally that billed as “the nation’s largest RV event.”
The rally runs Thursday through Sunday and is expected to draw about 15,000 RV enthusiasts from across North America to participate in and watch what organizers describe as “family-friendly activities,” including entertainment, RV seminars, talent contests and events for young people. The activities are open to the public, for a price.
The event also is intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the RV industry, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Sue Bray, an official with the Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) of Ventura, Calif., a leisure-industry company that organized the rally, estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 RVs will be parked at the exposition center and at nearby Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium lots. They began arriving Tuesday.
Affinity estimates that the event will have an economic impact of $11 million, making it one of the more lucrative conventions or trade shows held in Louisville this year.
Bray said the Affinity Group annual RV rally was first held in 2000 in Wyoming. It was held previously in Louisville in 2003. It was in Perry, Ga., last year and is planned in Redmond, Ore., in 2011.
People with RVs have the “freedom to travel and have new experiences and to be able to do it in the comfort of your home.”
Among the RV owners in Louisville for the event are John and Paula Reynolds of Rockaway, N.J. He said the couple usually spends three months of the year on the road, taking their RV to rallies, going on camping trips and using it for other leisure travel.
Reynolds, who works as a bus mechanic and driver for a school district, said he enjoys “being able to go where you want to go, when you want to go and how you want to go.”
Reynolds said that he used to travel frequently on business but that he tired of “the mess …. Now I don’t fly any more. I don’t go on trains or buses, unless I absolutely have to. I get in my RV, and we go. I don’t have to wait in line for an airline, or be at a hotel by 6 p.m. And I get to sleep between my own sheets every night.”
Reynolds said driving his RV, a 36-foot long Fleetwood Fiesta Class A, is like driving a bus. He usually tows a car for local driving and brings along a couple of mountain bikes.
The Louisville rally will offer attendees a chance to see the latest in RVs and motorhomes. They can test-drive — and arrange to purchase — vehicles from among the hundreds to be displayed on site. In addition, there will be about 300 booths at a trade show with displays of RV-related products and services.
About 20 vintage RVs will be exhibited, and leisure-industry officials will present more than 150 seminars during the weekend on such topics as healthy cooking on the road, chassis systems, RV trouble-shooting techniques and RV caravan travel.
Evening entertainment will be centered in Freedom Hall. Comic Bob Newhart will be the headliner Thursday night, while Friday night’s concert will feature Tanya Tucker.
The RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., had some special visitors Saturday (July 17).
Approximately 100 RVers — 50 couples — descended on the museum and conference center as part of the “Centennial Caraventure,” a four-day RV caravan in honor of the RV industry’s 100th anniversary leading up to The Rally 2010 in Louisville, Ky. The rally is the largest RV rally in the country, and is expected to draw 12,000 RVers this year, the Goshen News reported.
“Centennial Caraventure” participants toured the Newmar factory in Nappanee Friday before attending a lunch and tour at the Hall of Fame Saturday. The luncheon was followed by a presentation on the industry’s history and a technology and lifestyle seminar with Bob Livingston, senior vice president of Affinity Group Inc., and leader of the Caraventure.
“What it is, is really an enthusiast’s rally where people become immersed in the history all the way up to present time RVs,” Livingston said. “We talk about the lifestyle, we talk about technical aspects of RVs, we’ll talk about any topic at all. Basically, we’re talking about RVs until we don’t want to talk about RVs anymore.”
Livingston said participants have been extremely receptive to the format and have been thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Among those participants were Stan and Cathy Nicholson of Santa Barbara, Calif. The couple actually purchased an Airstream RV from Livingston years ago when he was still working for a dealer.
“We just had a college graduate (in the family), so we took the opportunity to drive our RV out for that and for this, then we’re driving around the country,” Stan said.
He said the couple has been seriously RVing for about 10 years. They make the most of each year, with a long stretch still ahead of them this summer.
“We don’t plan on going home for another three months,” Stan said.
Ray Cupples Jr. and his wife, Bonnie, were also enjoying the experience. The pair, who live in Clarion, Pa., started with tent camping and folding camping trailers before moving on to the full-fledged RV lifestyle after their children moved out.
“We’re enjoying the area. We wish we had a little time to do more,” Ray said.
He said they particularly liked the factory tour, being interested in the technical end of things.
“We’re always looking to upgrade or add to our units,” Ray said.
According to Livingston, participation in the event was limited to 50 couples to ensure enough one-on-one time between event staff and the RVers. He said they will probably hire more staff and increase the size of the event next year.
Today, Caraventure participants head to Louisville. The Rally 2010 will take place Thursday through July 25.
The owners of 50 towable and motorized RVs assembled today (July 16) at the Elkhart (Ind.) Campground as a prelude to The Rally, a four-day gathering of RVers July 22-25 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, Ky.
With the RV industry celebrating 100 years of RV manufacturing, the pre-rally event in Elkhart is dubbed the ”Centennial Caraventure,” and is being hosted by Bob Livingston, senior vice president and group publisher of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), and his wife, Lynne.
”It’s an RV immersion tour to show people the history of the RV industry,” Livingston said this morning as motorized and towable RVs were pulling into the private campground north of the city that calls itself the ”RV Capital of the World.”
Mostly, Livingston said, the Centennial Caraventure is designed to be educational on several levels.
”We are going to talk about the state of the RV industry, trends, the RV lifestyle and technical matters,” Livingston said. ”We will show the history of the RV industry and how they work and how to fix them.”
Livingston anticipates that he and other industry representatives presenting seminars will answer a lot of questions. ”I learned a long time ago that you can give speeches all day long, but what RVers really want is to have their questions answered,” said Livingston, who will lead an informal caravan to Louisville on Monday in a Dynamax Grand Sport GT motorhome.
Centennial Caraventure participants through the weekend will tour Amish Acres, in Nappanee, the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Studebaker National Museum in South Bend and Newmar Corp.’s manufacturing facility in Nappanee.
More than 5,000 Rvers in 2,400 rigs — plus a few hundred walk-in day vistors are expected to take part in The Rally, which will include displays of new RVs along with family-friendly activities, entertainment from comedian Bob Newhart and country singer Tanya Tucker, RV seminars, talent contests, youth and teen programs and volunteers taking part in a ”Keep America Beautiful” effort in Louisville.
More than 150 seminars during the Rally will include such topics as healthy cooking on the road, chassis systems, RV troubleshooting techniques and RV caravan travel.
The Rally Dog Show will return for the seventh year, giving pet owners the opportunity to participate in Doggie Musical Chairs and the Double Vision look-alike contest.
As part of the centennial celebration, Affinity’s Good Sam Club affiliate asked those registering for The Rally to submit stories about their first RVing experience with the winner scheduled to receive 100 gallons of fuel.
AGI is the parent company of RVBUSINESS.com.
Thousands of recreational vehicle enthusiasts will celebrate the RV industry’s centennial at The Rally, a four-day extravaganza at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) , July 22-25.
The Rally, now in its 11th year, will bring more than 10,000 RVers to the Bluegrass State to take part in countless fun and family-friendly activities, and includes high-profile entertainers, RV seminars, talent contests, a youth and teen program and a volunteer effort, according to a news release.
Attendees will see the latest and greatest in RVs and motorhomes and can test-drive and purchase from top manufacturers and dealers across the nation with more than 1,000 RV models to choose from. In addition, hundreds of booths will display the newest RV products, gadgets and services. A special living exhibit of 20 vintage RVs will be on display, organized by the RV historian from the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind.
RV industry gurus will present more than 150 seminars at The Rally 2010, giving guests the opportunity to meet experts who can answer questions about the RV lifestyle. More than 30 daily seminars will cover such topics as healthy cooking on the road, chassis systems, RV troubleshooting techniques and RV caravan travel — just to name a few.
The Rally 2010 will also bring the best in stage and screen to entertain attendees. Stand-up comic and actor Bob Newhart will be on hand to keep the audience amused with his hilarious stories on Thursday, July 22; while on Friday, July 23, legendary country music artist Tanya Tucker will perform her greatest hits. Bands will play throughout the event, while “The Rally’s Got Talent” contest will feature a wide variety of acts and interesting talents on Sunday evening, July 25.
RVers love their pets, and the popular Rally Dog Show, “Kentucky K-9s!” is returning for the seventh year, giving dog owners and their pets a chance to compete in categories such as Doggie Musical Chairs and the Double Vision look-a-like contest on July 23. The Rally is also offering two pet adoption days for dogs and cats in need of homes through Louisville Metro Animal Services on Friday, July 23, and Saturday, July 24.
While The Rally focuses mainly on fun and exploring the RV lifestyle, attendees will also have the opportunity to give back to the local community. A pre-rally volunteer service day with Brightside, Louisville’s “Keep America Beautiful” affiliate, will take place on Wednesday, July 21. Volunteers will participate in beautification projects throughout the city. In exchange for a guest’s participation, The Rally will provide one night of free dry camping on Tuesday, July 20, as well as transportation and a sack lunch on the project day.
“The Rally is more than just an exposition — it’s an experience that celebrates the RV lifestyle,” said Mike Schneider, CEO of Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), parent company of The Rally’s hosts. “With this year’s 100th anniversary, we’re delighted to offer a great lineup of attractions that the whole family will enjoy. If you’re in the market for an RV, this is also a unique opportunity to compare nearly every make and model in one central location while enjoying entertainment, exhibits, seminars and more. We look forward to welcoming guests from across the country in Louisville this summer.”
As part of the centennial festivities, the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ organization with nearly 1 million member families, announces an RV centennial promotion. Members may submit a story about their first RVing experience, and the writer of the winning entry receives 100 gallons of gasoline or diesel fuel. To enter, Good Sam Club members can visit the RV.net blog.
In addition, a pre-event Centennial Caraventure hosted by Bob Livingston, senior vice president and group publisher of Affinity Media, will take RVers on a caravan into RVs’ past and present. The adventure, designed for enthusiasts who want an in-depth look at the history and lifestyle of RVing, begins in Elkhart, the heart of the RV industry, on July 16. Participants will tour Amish Acres, the RV/MH Hall of Fame, Studebaker National Museum and the Newmar recreational vehicle factory. The event also includes tech and lifestyle seminars. The Caraventure ends July 19 at The Rally.
For more than a decade, the annual Rally event has been hosted by the Good Sam Club, Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines, Trailer Life and Woodall’s Campground directories, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts and Camping World President’s Club. All the organizations are either owned by or affiliated with AGI, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, headquartered in Ventura, Calif.
Daily admission to The Rally is $10 for adults; children ages 12 and under are free. RV sites start at $189 for two people, and all-activity Rally Passports (without RV parking) are priced at $69 per attendee. Visit www.therally.com for information and registration. Fans can also join The Rally Facebook group at www.facebook.com/therally, track The Rally on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therally, and get updates at Eons by clicking on www.eons.com/groups/group/the-rally.
Both consumer and exhibitor signups are ahead of last year — by double digits — for The Rally July 22-25 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, Ky.
This year’s Rally theme revolves around the 100th anniversary of RVing in the U.S, an initiate that was spearheaded by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and recognized in proclamations in Congress and a number of state legislatures.
Through Friday, 1,970 consumers had registered their coaches — a number that is 10% higher at this point than in 2009 when The Rally, sponsored by Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), was in Albuquerque, N.M.
”We are at least 10% or more ahead of where we were with advance (consumer) registrations than last year,” said Terry Thompson, AGI vice president of sales. ”We are two months out, and traditionally during the last two month we get a huge rush of registrations.”
Thompson also expects a 20%-25% increase in display coaches for sale that will be brought to The Rally by RV manufacturers and a 10% hike in vendor booths.
The Rally’s displays and programs this year all will be located indoors in the South Wing of the KEC, annual site of RVIA’s National RV Trade Show.
”We got manufacturers who didn’t participate last year,” Thompson said. ”That’s a good thing. They are healthier, obviously, than they were a year ago. And our sense is the people are buying at RV shows and The Rally certainly has become a buying rally.”
Owners of a total of 3,112 motorhomes and towable RVs registered for the 10th version of The Rally last year in Albuquerque.
The Rally (formerly called the Great North American RV Rally) is hosted by the Good Sam Club, Camping World President’s Club, Coast to Coast Resorts, Woodall’s and Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines, all of which are owned by AGI with headquarters in Ventura, Calif. RVBUSINESS.com also is an AGI affiliate.
Prior to The Rally, Bob Livingston, publisher of MotorHome magazine, and his wife, Lynne, will host a special, four-day behind-the-scenes look for registered RVers at the RV industry in northern Indiana with factory tours and visits to the RV/MH Hall of Fame/Museum in Elkhart, Ind., and the Studebaker National Museum in nearby South Bend.
The Livingstons then will lead a caravan to The Rally site in Louisville, about six hours south of Elkhart.
Entertainment at The Rally includes comedy icon Bob Newhart, country music superstar Tanya Tucker and SuperDiamond, a tribute band to singer Neil Diamond.
With more than 150 seminars during the four-day rally on subjects that include campground safety, dinghy towing, motorhome chassis, engine performance, pet care on the road and RV insurance among others, there also will be youth programs from children ages 6-12 and teenagers 13-17. Other events include a talent show, Rally Dog Show and a special living display of vintage RVs, organized by Al Hesselbart, historian for the RV/MH Hall of Fame/Museum. In yet another twist, 100 hundred gallons of fuel will be given to the owners of the oldest RV attending The Rally.
On July 21, the day before The Rally officially begins, RVers can volunteer with Brightside, a Louisville organization that enhances the city by planting flowers and other greenery on vacant lots.
The feature video, “60 Days Until The Greatest RV Rally in the World,” is now available on “RV Buddies.”
Click here to watch the “RV Buddies” video.
The Rally advertises itself as the biggest and best RV rally of the year. Sponsored by Affinity Group Inc. and the Good Sam Club, Coast to Coast Resorts, Camping World President’s Club, Trailer Life and Motorhome magazines and Woodall’s Publications, the annual gathering welcomes RVers of all ages, shapes and sizes.
“RV Buddies” had this to say about The Rally, scheduled for July 22-25 in Louisville, Ky.:
“RV Buddies” went to last year’s Rally in Albuquerque and we’re glad we did. There was so much to do and see and experience and we had a lot of fun. We enjoyed seeing the new coaches and the seminars and the dog show and everything The Rally had to offer. But the best part wasn’t any of those things. The best part about The Rally is the people. They come from all across the United States and Canada and from many other countries around the world and descend upon The Rally in such a large group that the organizers describe the event as bringing a “city to a city.” Literally thousands of people show up with their RVs to form the “Biggest” part of The Rally. And the people make it the “Best” part of The Rally. That’s where the description “The Biggest and the Best Rally” comes from. EVERYONE we met there was nice and they were there to have a good time. The camaraderie with fellow RV enthusiasts on a scale that big is the best we’ve ever seen anywhere. Any place. Any time.
This year, the Rally is in Louisville, Kentucky and we think you should take a look at going. But don’t take our word for it. Take a look for yourself. We’ve put together a piece from the video we shot at last year’s Rally in Albuquerque so you can get an idea of what went on last year and what to expect this year. With 60 days left, there’s still plenty of time to plan your trip to this year’s “Greatest RV Rally in the World.”
For more information contact Mark Summers at Mark@RVBuddiesOnline.com.
Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) announced more activities related to its upcoming “The Rally” to be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., July 22-25 and the centennial celebration of the RV industry.
Comedian Bob Newhart will perform the night of July 22. Singer Tanya Tucker performs July 23.
The rally will also feature a special living display of vintage RVs, organized by Al Hesselbart, the official RV historian at the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind. This display will be open throughout the rally and will be an opportunity to experience RV living through the decades.
Finally, Bob and Lynne Livingston are leading a Centennial Carvanenture from Elkhart to the Rally in Louisville July 16-19. This pre-Rally program is designed for RV enthusiasts who really want to get an in-depth perspective of the RV lifestyle and industry. Highlights include: Amish country, a visit to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart and the Studebaker National Museum, a customized tour of the Newmar factory and tech and lifestyle seminars with Bob and Lynne.
The Centennial Caraventure is open to everyone, whether or not they are attending the Rally. Cost is $1,169/rig with two people for those attending the Rally and $1,299/rig with 2 people for those not attending the Rally.
More information is available on the rally website.
The event is expected to draw 10,000 RV enthusiasts in 4,500 RVs. More than 1,000 new RVs will be displayed. Other attractions will include 500 commercial booths, more than 30 educational seminars and nightly entertainment.
A behind-the-scenes look at the RV industry in Northern Indiana is being organized for RVers in conjunction with “The Rally,” the nation’s largest gathering of RVers, scheduled for July 22-25 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.
Bob Livingston, publisher of MotorHome magazine, and his wife, Lynne, are the hosts of this adventure, which begins in Elkhart, Ind., where they will lead a group of RVers on a short journey into the past and present — with a little partying stirred in to enhance the experience, according to the magazine.
The group will meet on Friday, July 16, in Elkhart. Once settled in at the RV park, the special four-day event commences with a private, guided tour of the Newmar RV factory in Nappanee, Ind., to learn firsthand how the vehicles are built. From there, participants will mingle with members of the Amish community and finish off the day with a homestyle meal.
The next morning guests will tour the RV/MH Hall of Fame Museum, which relives the 100-year evolution of RVs. In the afternoon, an interactive tech and lifestyle seminar will be presented. Bill Gehr, of Bill’s RV in Ventura, Calif., will join Livingston to answer attendees’ questions. Gehr — who has been living and breathing RVs for more than 35 years — and his wife, Jenn, are full-timers. On Sunday’s schedule, it’s off to Studebaker National Museum in nearby South Bend. Dinner and more socializing follow.
On Monday, the group breaks camp and heads for Louisville. It’s about a six-hour drive to The Rally site. Once there, participants will gather for a farewell party and get a preview of all the great things in store for them during the following six days at The Rally. To top it off, participants in this special program get the VIP treatment: They will be assigned a premium site close to all the action.
The cost for this special RV immersion tour, which includes an extra “early bird” day, is $1,169 per rig (two people), if you’re signed up for The Rally; for those not registered for The Rally, and departing on Tuesday morning, the tour price is $1,299. For reservations or more information, call (800) 829-5140.
The Rally, MotorHome magazine and WWW.RVBUSINESS.com are all affiliated with Affinity Group Inc.
RV manufacturers and accessory suppliers experienced larger-than-anticipated traffic and sales at the nation’s largest RV rally April 17-20 in Albuquerque, N.M.
In drawing 3,112 RVs, 353 indoor exhibitors and 140 outdoor exhibit slots over the four-day event, this growing annual get-together – officially called The Rally – again demonstrated the ongoing commitment North American RV enthusiasts have for the RV lifestyle, according to a press release.
Millions of dollars in RVs and accessories were sold throughout The Rally, now in its 10th year, including a $460,000 motorcoach by Michigan-based manufacturer Silver Crown LLC. Roadmaster Inc., Camping World Inc. and Demco-Dethmers Mfg. Co. were among the exhibitors reporting “terrific” sales, while a number of companies literally sold out of product.
“Our exhibitors are very pleased with the amount of traffic and sales activity at The Rally 2009; in fact, at times, attendees were shoulder to shoulder inside the exhibit hall,” said Sue Bray, executive director for the Good Sam Club, the event’s organizer. “RV manufacturers and aftermarket parts and accessory suppliers alike saw many buyers in a short amount of time, which is a testament to the strength of the industry and commitment to this lifestyle. It was a huge shot in the arm to an industry that really needs it.”
“The turnout was better than expected,” noted Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for Ventura, Calif.-based Affinity Group Inc. (AGI). “Our goal was to get 3,000 family rigs to attend, and we ended up with 3,112. Both the indoor and outdoor exhibitors told us they were happy with the results. Dealers were able to get inventory moved, and the indoor guys were flooded with customers. The first two days of the show it was tough to just walk down the aisles; there were so many people inside. We delivered a bunch of buyers to exhibitors, and nothing makes us happier.”
RV travelers, representing every state and province in North America, camped at Albuquerque’s famous Balloon Fiesta Park, while exhibitors, seminars and daily activities took place down the road at the EXPO New Mexico fairgrounds.
Among the first-time events this year at The Rally 2009 were philanthropic projects, eco-friendly initiatives and pet adoptions. In an effort to give back to The Rally’s host community of Albuquerque, more than 70 Rally-goers participated in a day of service at Rio Grande Community Farm, while conservation expert Brian Brawdy showed how traveling by RV can conserve resources. The Rally also hosted dog and cat adoptions, courtesy of Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, which secured homes for more than half of the animals.
The Rally 2010 will be July 22-25 in Louisville, Ky. Additional information and registration can be found online at www.therally.com. The Rally can also be found on Facebook (The Rally), EONS.com (TheRally), Twitter and Flickr (flickr.com/photos/therally/).
For a decade, The Rally has been an annual event hosted by the million-member Good Sam Club, along with Camping World President’s Club, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts, Woodall’s and Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines. All the organizations are either owned by or affiliated with AGI, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, headquartered in Ventura, Calif.
RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com are AGI products.
(Editor’s Note: The following story was written by Bob Difley and first appeared on his blog on RV.net.)
I’ve been teaching seminars at “The Rally” even before it was called that, when its official title was the eloquent Great North American Rally, or as it was known by its acronymn, the pirate-sounding GNAR. During this 10-year run, the RV industry, as well as the rally attendance, has risen and fallen on the whimsical gyrations of the economy, foreign oil prices, orange and red alerts, and the weather (oh, did it rain in Perry, Ga., in the spring of 2001).
This year may have been the largest test of RVers’ confidence, not the weather in the high desert climate of Albuquerque (though it was quite chilly the first few days), but rather the condition of the economy. Would RVers show up eager to learn the intricacies of the RV lifestyle through the morning to afternoon seminars? Would they have cash in their pockets to purchase the gadgets, goodies, and necessities offered by the flock of vendors who traveled from across the country to set up their booths and display their wares? Would the retired and soon to be retired pull their heads inside their shells until the economic outlook predicted more sunny days? And would they even care about boondocking, birding, and wildlife watching (my seminar subjects) in the face of economic crisis?
What a surprise it was on the first day of “Pre-Show” days – Thursday – when my 8:30 boondocking class overflowed and a second class was hastily scheduled to accommodate those who didn’t get in. Through that class I learned that RVeers are a resilient sort. None of those I talked to had the slightest notion to park their rig and wait out the turbulence. Instead, they wanted to learn how to boondock, not only to be out in nature more, but to save money, live a greener lifestyle and, most of all, to continue RVing within a tightening economy.
I noticed something else. The aisles of the vendor buildings were jammed. All day. Cash was changing hands. People were lugging bags and bundles of their new purchases out of the buildings. And “Sold” signs were appearing in the windows of many of the rigs-of all sizes-that dealers had moved onto the grounds. One vendor, who made his living by traveling from RV show to RV show told me that this was his best show of the season. Mike and Terie Church’s RV guide books were walking out their booth-by the twos and threes. Brian Brawdy’s green Lance camper was swamped by people asking questions on how to green their RVs.
This sure didn’t look like the demise of the RV industry, far from it. My guess is that, even if the economy hasn’t quite hit bottom yet, RVers are not going to stay dormant for long. Spring is here, and RVers turn to thoughts of pine scented forests, sandy beaches and two-lane backroads. And nothing is going to keep their wheels chocked for long.
Happy travels, you adventurers. Keep exploring. The RV Lifestyle lives.
Affinity Group Inc.’s (AGI) annual rally — know nationally as ”The Rally” — drew 3,112 registered motorized and towable RVs April 16-20 to an encampment at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, N.M., and to exhibits at the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds several miles south.
”We had a big drive-up crowd which really helped — over 200 units,” said Terry Thompson AGI vice president of advertising and sales. ”That was more than we usually get. Some people just procrastinate.”
The weather was semi-cooperative and snowfall on the second day was unexpected, but not necessarily unusual, with Albuquerque being located in the high desert at more than 4,900 feet above sea level.
Attendance was off by about 10% from The Rally held last March at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Perry, Ga. ”It was better than we expected because today’s market is difficult,” Thompson said.
About 400 suppliers manned indoor booths and 30 manufacturers and dealers brought about 500 display units to The Rally with some reporting relatively good sales. The indoor booths were particularly popular with packed aisles, especially the day it snowed.
”When the weather is lousy, it’s a homerun for the indoor exhibitors,” Thompson said. ”It was shoulder-to-shoulder on Friday. People were happy to be there and they were buying product. They weren’t shuffling their feet complaining about not having any money and how bad the economy is. And for a lot of people, this was the first time they were at The Rally.”
The Rally next year will be held July 22-25 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., the same location where the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) stages its annual national RV trade show.
A city of recreational vehicles is growing at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, N.M.
Thousands of RVs have set up camp for “The Rally,” the largest gathering of recreational vehicles in the nation, which opened at 10 a.m. local time today (April 17).
Temperatures were in the 50s this morning and were expected in the 60s and mid-70s by the end of the weekend, according to Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), the event sponsor.
“What we need it to be is dry and a little bit warmer,” he said.
But Thompson, who is overseeing the commercial exhibits at ‘The Rally,’ and many others have already found one example of something “hot” at ‘The Rally;’ the Keystone RV exhibit which features a free trailer give-away.
“They were jammed with people yesterday coming in to register for the show,” he said. “There was a huge line of people – attendees – picking up their registraiton packets. They walked past the Keystone display and put their names in a barrel.”
The sea of RVs that began converging on the city by mid-week inspired at least five vendors who decided at the last minute to display their products at the show. “That’s been kind of cool,” Thompson added.
Overall, “The exhibit buildings look great, the outdoor exhibits look great. These guys are hoping for a good show,” he said.
The RV city could grow to 10,000 by Friday, with people coming from just about every state in the nation.
For some people, travelling the country is more than just a past-time, reported KOB.com, Albuquerque.
“We do not have a home. This is our home,” said Larry Sockwell of Oakwood, Texas, one of ‘The Rally’ attendees. “It’s not so much as how far you go, it’s what you get to see.”
Most of the events for the rally will happen at the State Fairgrounds, with a bus service taking people to and from Balloon Fiesta Park.
The event is hosted by the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ group with more than 1.5 million member families nationwide, along with Camping World President’s Club, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts, Woodall’s and Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines. All the organizations are either owned by or affiliated with AGI, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, headquartered in Ventura, Calif.
RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com are also owned by AGI.
RVBusiness.com will provide frequent video direct from the event.
The festivities end on Monday.
RVers from across North America are converging on Albuquerque, N.M., this week for the 10th annual “The Rally,” the nation’s largest gathering of RVs.
At last count, there were 2,759 rigs registered for the event, according to Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for Affinity Group Inc. (AGI) and in charge of commercial sales for the event. The four-day event officially begins Friday morning.
Thompson has spoken with manufacturers and dealers displaying new products at “The Rally” and said the event has created “a good buzz around town.”
Clear skies and temperatures in the 70s created perfect conditions for set-up today, he noted. Slightly cooler but dry conditions are forecast for Friday’s opening.
For thousands of RVers, “The Rally” is the event and vacation destination of the year. RV newbies and veterans alike will gather to share the popular recreation lifestyle through seminars, exhibits, entertainment, games and meetings with industry experts from around the world.
New to this year’s event, attendees will be able to tune into “Reality RV” to watch and learn as Brian Brawdy, a well-known spokesman for eco-awareness, and his co-pilot live in his biodiesel-powered Lance Model 1181 camper on The Rally grounds. A former New York police investigator, Brawdy now travels North America full time inspiring individuals to take a proactive role in their lives and the environment. He will be challenged to show how traveling by RV conserves many resources. Cameras installed in his rig will frequently monitor and broadcast Brawdy’s quest on a large outdoor screen.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to “take home the green” as “The Rally” hosts the first Going Green ideas contest, which invites participants to submit green inventions or concepts to make RVs more environmentally friendly.
“RVers spend vast amounts of time in the great outdoors, so it’s only natural that they want to help preserve and improve the environment they enjoy so much,” said Sue Bray, AGI vice president and executive director of the Good Sam Club. “These two initiatives give participants the opportunity to make a real difference for generations of RVers to come.”
The event is hosted by the Good Sam Club, the world’s largest RV owners’ group with more than 1.5 million member families nationwide, along with Camping World President’s Club, Camp Club USA, Coast to Coast Resorts, Woodall’s and Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines. All the organizations are either owned by or affiliated with Affinity, the nation’s largest provider of outdoor recreation clubs, services, media and events, headquartered in Ventura, Calif.
RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com are also owned by Affinity.
RVBusiness.com will provide frequent video direct from the event.
“RV Buddies,” an adventure lifestyle show distributed as an Internet Television production on its own website, on Apple iTunes and other distribution channels will be doing extensive filming at “The Rally.”
“RV Buddies is thrilled to be at ‘The Rally’ this year,” said Mark Summers, executive producer and host of the show adding, “This is more than an RV exhibit; this one brings together all aspects of the RV community in one place.”
‘RV Buddies’ plans an extensive tour of the latest in RV accessories a look at some of the new coaches on display.
Slated for inclusion are the annual dog show (this year they’re calling it “Show Your Tricks… on Route 66”), a variety of youth segments for younger RVers (including balloon art, face painting and oreo-eating contests), The Red Hat Ladies Tea group (which boasts a membership of over one million), Brian Brawdy’s Eco-RV and the “Hole in the Wall” camps. Hole in the Wall was founded in 1988 by the late actor Paul Newman and is the official charity of Affinity.