view_west_of_giant_center_12The 41st Annual Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show, America’s largest RV show, runs Sept. 14-20 at Hersheypark Entertainment & Resorts Complex in Hershey, Pa. Sponsored by the 368-member Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA), it covers 1.6 million square feet of display space and will features products from at least 45 U.S. and Canadian RV and recreational park trailer manufacturers plus 87 vendors.

Nearly 30,000 people are expected to attend the show, which draws consumers from across the Eastern U.S. and Canada. On trade days, Sept. 14-15, campground owners and dealers may visit the displays and meet with manufacturer reps. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20 are public days.

“We are allowing 20% of the manufacturer’s display to be untitled 2009s,” explained Heather Leach, PRVCA marketing and education director. “This year we are trying focus on the fact that our trade days are Hershey’s best kept secret – there’s no waiting to see your manufacturer rep.”

“It is a show of major importance,” adds Dave Burroughs, North American sales manager for Woodland Park Inc. of Middlebury, Ind., one of 11 recreational park trailer or park model manufacturers set to exhibit their 2010 product at the show’s park model village. “It definitely showcases our product, especially on the East Coast. It is a good show for that. It would be nice if we had this kind of show in a few other areas of the U.S.”

Leach says registration for exhibitor and booth spaces has been strong, with several manufacturers upping their space in recent weeks. “It (the economy) is not so bad and they’re buying more space,” she speculated. “We’ll sell space until the start of the show.”

PRVCA, which derives 92% of its annual revenue from the weeklong show, has upped its advertising budget to extract the biggest possible turnout, Leach noted.

Park models are among the unique products to be featured at Hershey each year, and at least 30 different models will be on display, according to Leach. Among the exhibiting RV manufacturers, with park trailer builders highlighted, are:

  • Born Free Motorcoach
  • Breckenridge Park Trailers
  • Carriage Inc.
  • Chariot Eagle Inc.
  • Cinq-Mars Industries Inc.
  • Classy Vehicle Specialties Inc.
  • Coachmen Division of Forest River
  • Columbia Northwest/Aliner
  • Crossroads RV
  • Damon Motor Coach
  • DNA Enterprises
  • DRV Luxury Suites
  • Dutch Park Homes Inc.
  • Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.
  • Entegra Coach
  • Fairmont Park Trailers
  • Forest River Inc.
  • Four Winds International
  • Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.
  • Glendale RV
  • Heartland RV
  • Hy-Line Enterprises Holdings Inc.
  • Jayco Inc.
  • Keystone RV Co.
  • Kropf Industries Inc.
  • KZ RV
  • Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp.
  • Leisure Travel Vans
  • Livin’ Lite
  • New Horizons RV Corp.
  • Open Range RV Co.
  • Peterson Industries
  • Phoenix USA Inc.
  • Pleasure-Way Industries
  • Renegade Coaches &
  • Trailers/Kibbi Inc.
  • Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc.
  • Silver Top Manufacturing Co. Inc.
  • Starcraft RV
  • Sunnybrook RV Inc.
  • The Barn Yard
  • Tiffin Motor Homes
  • TrailManor Inc.
  • Triple E Recreational Vehicles
  • Winnebago Industries Inc.
  • Woodland Park Inc.

lower_levelA Strong Vendor Show

Vendors also count on the Hershey Show to make important sales pitches to a large audience. Skip Deegans, owner of Anderson’s Brochure Distribution Service, Lewisburg, W. Va., has been attending the show in Hershey (and Harrisburg before that) for more than 20 years. The firm distributes brochures for campgrounds, RV parks and some tourists associations as well as camping directories for several states and Canadian provinces. It is one of two major such distributors on the East Coast.

“This is really an important show,” said Deegans, noting that his booth is always staffed and never put on “autopilot.”

“It’s really the first time campers get a peek at the new models,” he continued, adding that that’s the reason Hershey draws from such a wide area. “The timing also is very interesting. We get a lot of snowbirds looking for information where to go in the winter, and we’re still getting people looking to camp in the fall. We feel it’s an important show to be at.”

Education Seminars

Besides the trade show, PRVCA has brought together a number of noted speakers to discuss current topics. The list includes:

Monday, Sept. 14:

  • Leading Edge Breakfast with Randy Sobel – “20 New Sales Techniques for Today’s Changing Market”
  • “Park Trailers As Part of Your Campground Inventory” with Linda Profaizer of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) and Bill Garpow of the Recreation Park Trailer Industry Association (RPTIA)
  •  “RV Technician Distance Learning” with Gary Bunzer, focusing on programs available through Northampton Community College and PRVCA.

Tuesday, Sept. 15

  • Red Carpet Breakfast with NFL legend Jerome Bettis, themed “Choices That Make Champions” and featuring Jerome Bettis, AKA “The Bus,” a former running back for Notre Dame and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bettis is considered one of the best big backs of his era and is fifth on the National Football League’s all-time rushing list. Join “The Bus” as he presents his message on how the choices one makes can influence their life.

The Annual Meet & Greet Auction to support PRVCA’s PAC Fund will be held after Bettis’ message. Bid on an autographed football and get a chance to meet the football legend. A limited number of autographed photos will be available for purchase at $30. Attendees may also bring personal items to be autographed (footballs $160 and photographs $80).

Wednesday, Sept. 16

Sales Rally with Randy Sobel 

bowser-logo-21Among the other planned Hershey activities is a traditional Monday night industry party, which starts this year at 4 p.m. and features Bowzer’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Party. 

Consumer Education

The Recreation Vehicle Education Safety Foundation (RVSEF) will take on an expanded role educating consumers about RVs and the RV lifestyle during a Sept. 13-16 clinic prior to the show.

“The number of RVers attending rallies is down, but the percentage of people attending our weighing and driving seminars actually is up,” said

Walter Cannon, executive director of the Merrit Island, Fla.-based RVSEF. Seminars will be presented by Workhorse Custom Chassis Inc.,

Spartan Chassis Inc., Freightliner Custom Chassis Inc., Cummins Inc.’s Onan generator division and Gary Motley of Motley RV Repair, Oklahoma City, Okla., in addition to the Geeks on Tour, who will teach Internet-related subjects, Nick Russell, publisher of Gypsy Journal, an unusual RV lifestyle magazine, and Mac Mcoy, will instruct on fire and personal safety.

The RVSEF clinic at the Wildwood Conference Center at Harrisburg (Pa.) Community College, in manner of speaking, will fill a vacancy left by the poplar Life On Wheels program, which shut its door in October following the passing of founder and RV lifestyle advocate Gaylord Maxwell.