The Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Campground Association (PRVCA) experienced some unanticipated problems with parking and security but generally won praise from exhibiting manufacturers and dealers at the 2005 Pennsylvania RV & Camping Show staged Sept. 12-18 for the first time at Hersheypark and the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.
PRVCA’s show for the last 36 years had been held about 15 miles to the west at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg.
“We are being told that we had a record crowd, but we can’t confirm it,” said Rebecca Lennington, PRVCA executive vice president.
In addition, attendance during two trade days that preceded the consumer portion of the show was up 39% with 587 businesses registering 2,207 people. “That was a nice surprise,” Lennington said. “Those are good solid numbers to offer the manufacturers.”
The bad news? Private security failed to arrive on Saturday morning and many people walked into the show for free without being counted, Lennington said.
Also on Saturday and Sunday those attending the RV show had to compete for parking with people visiting Hersheypark’s amusement park.
Official consumer attendance at the largest annual consumer show on the East Coast was down 10% to 28,910 from 2004, the last year the show was held in Harrisburg. In total, 93 RV manufacturers exhibited at displays set up by 62 dealers and some 166 vendors also manned booths inside the Giant Center.
Show Chairman Dan Saltzgiver, co-owner of Reichart’s Camping Center, Hanover, Pa., said problems with parking and moving people through sprawling Hersheypark will be worked out by next year. “The venue worked out fine,” Saltzgiver said. “We had a few hiccups but most of the issues will be taken care of by next year.”
Among the priorities, he said, is establishing a tram system to carry people to opposite sides of the Giant Center where units were displayed. Saltzgiver said the show was a success from the standpoint of sales for his dealership, which were up 20% from 2004.
“The parking was a fiasco and probably drove people away,” said Greg Snyder, president of Aspen Transport Village, York, Pa., whose display was on the side of the Giant Center opposite the main parking area. “Our traffic flow was really diminished because people had to walk so far to find us.”
Others weren’t nearly as critical.
“We loved the facility, the layout, the way the booths were set up. That worked out well,” said Bob Cox, general manager of Stoltzfus RV and Marine, West Chester, Pa., adding that the dealership sold about the same number of RVs during the show as it did in Harrisburg last year.
“Naturally you always hope for more, but with the hurricanes that have been in the news and higher fuel prices, we were pretty happy,” Cox said.
Given this was PRVCA’s first year at Hersheypark, the show went well, said Brent Stevens, general manager of Goshen, Ind.-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.’s Aerolite Division. “I liked the venue,” Stevens said. “There was a much more professional aesthetic at Hersheypark than at the Farm Show. It was a very successful show for us.”
Bob Tiffin, president of Tiffin Motor Homes Inc., Red Bay, Ala., said displays were easier to find because they were all outdoors. “We had a very good show, selling a good number of motorhomes,” Tiffin said. “I wish our customers wouldn’t have had to fight that traffic (on Saturday and Sunday).”