The 2014 Wisconsin Campground Owners Association (WACO) convention March 12-16 in Stevens Point was a “grand show with a ton of participation,” according to Executive Director Lori Severson.
The show was larger this year with 262 attendees from 99 campgrounds, and Severson reported that many extended their stay to include the full five days. “We had many people that came for one and two days, but then we had a pretty good number that did the whole entire convention for all five days, so that was encouraging,” she said, noting that WACO’s convention runs longer than traditional state association gatherings.
The hotel rooms blocked for convention-goers were all booked and exhibitor space was filled to capacity with a “record number” of vendors. “We had 196 booths, counting the table spaces and the outside venues. We reworked the space to net us an additional five spaces, which we promptly filled,” Severson related. “The lineup of exhibitors was one of the best we have had in a long time, and 90% of the exhibitors indicated they would like to come back next year.”
With a “CSI: Wisconsin” (Customer Service Investigation) theme, the convention’s education and business activities included over 50 seminars, food management certification and WACO’s annual meeting. Also on the agenda were visits from Sarah Klavas of Wisconsin’s Department of Tourism and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch along with a Kids Kamp, casino night, Storage Wars auctions, a golf-cart giveaway and celebrity guests such as “Cheers” television star George Wendt and Green Bay Packers players Gilbert Brown and William Henderson.
Severson said the “heavy play-to-work ratio” is purposely orchestrated and a leading reason the WACO convention is the largest of its kind, drawing regular attendees even from other states.
“That’s one of the biggest comments that we’ve gotten, truly. This is where people come to get energized for the season,” she stated. “It’s fun, and that is truly what our industry is about.”