The 8-year-old traveled with his grandparents, Mary Beth and Mark Petric, from the Chicago suburbs to the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., to help them look for a new motorhome at the 60th annual Midwest RV Super Show, which opened Thursday (Aug. 6) and closes Sunday.

“He helped us pick out our last one, so we brought him along again,” Mark Petric said as Owen climbed the stairs to a fifth-wheel travel trailer and peered inside. “He’s been in about 20 so far.”

The Petrics spend the winter months at an RV resort in Florida and are looking to upgrade from their 18-foot rig to something a little more deluxe.

“We want something that’s a destination RV, like a park model with wheels,” Mary Beth Petric said, adding that she liked the fireplaces, big-screen televisions and kitchen islands she saw in some models at the show.

These features are becoming more common in new models each year, said Dave Titus, owner of Elkhart’s International RV Wholesalers.

“You’re starting to see more name brands, like real Laz-Z-Boy chairs and appliances from KitchenAid and Whirlpool,” Titus said. “There’s always more toys and electronics.”

Titus said he’s seeing more and more business from families with young children.

“It used to be they’d go for a cottage on a lake or a cabin in the woods, but then you can only go to one place,” he said. An RV allows more freedom and is less expensive, he said.

International RV is one of 12 dealers that brought about 300 new travel trailers and motorhomes to the event, which runs through Sunday, said Matt Rose, director of recreation vehicles for the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council.

The show’s proximity to manufacturers — more than 80% of the country’s RVs are made here in Elkhart County — means buyers can get a better deal, he said.

“When you buy here, you don’t have to pay for a transport driver to take it from the manufacturer to a dealer,” Rose said. “Some of these came straight from the factory. They’ve never seen a dealer lot. The cost here will be lower than anywhere else.”

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