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.
“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, 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.”
More than 9 million people in the U.S. now own RVs. 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 wildly popular recreation lifestyle through seminars, exhibits, entertainment, games and meetings with industry experts from around the world.
The Rally is an annual event 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 MotorHomemagazines. 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.
Going Green contest participants are asked to submit an initial outline of their projects by April 10 to Bob Difley at email@example.com, or by mail to “Going Green” ideas contest 2009, 2575 Vista del Mar Drive, Ventura, CA 93001.
Daily admission is $10 for adults, and a second day’s free pass can be obtained at The Rally site; children 12 and under are free. Admission is also free for Albuquerque area Boy Scouts and their immediate families on Sunday, April 19, provided they wear their Boy Scout uniforms. RV sites start at $169 for two people. Additional information and registration can also be found online at www.therally.com.
For more information, visit www.therally.com. To learn more about Brawdy’s adventure, log onto www.brianbrawdy.com or www.wonderexplorebelieve.net.