EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story was written by Peggy Werner and originally published by Smart Living Fort Wayne. It is reprinted with permission.
The 63rd Fort Wayne RV & Camping Show attracts about 12,000 people annually to see new models, new floor plans and new features, including home-size appliances in the latest models. The event is held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 1-3; and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 4 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, 4000 Parnell Ave.
“The show is a great place to explore and shop for a new RV from any of the eight dealers represented and talk with people from area campgrounds to learn about all the places you can go, equipment and accessories,” says Matt Rose, director of Recreation Vehicles for the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council.
More and more people are viewing RVing as a safe and affordable way to travel, he says, adding that the interest in RVing began skyrocketing during the pandemic.
“Within the past five years, about 7 million people started to enjoy camping for the first time,” says Rose. “The best year ever for RV sales was 2021. That year, more than 600,000 units were sold nationwide.”
The fastest growing segment of the population turning to RVing are ages 18-34 and represent about 22% of the RV owners throughout the country.
“Young people, especially, crave adventure and want that Instagram picture next to a majestic waterfall or other scenic sites,” Rose says. “Many people want to bike, hike and have healthier options while vacationing.”
About 25 million Americans go RVing each year to camp, hike, boat, fish or just to relax in nature, generating about $120 billion to the national economy each year. The economic impact on Indiana alone is about $38 billion, affecting manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and campgrounds. Elkhart is both the birthplace of the RV and the RV capital of the world. About 83% of all RVs in North America are built in Indiana, which has about 50 dealerships. The RV industry employs more than 142,000 people in the state.
Kyle Barry is the marketing director and a sales associate at Barton Lake RV in Fremont, Ind. The company has been at the show for 10 consecutive years.
“We always focus on people’s happiness,” he says. We know our business and care about their experience and want to meet their needs.”
Chris Sallows of Angola, Ind., upgraded a few years ago to a 2016 Keystone Bullet 272, making his final selection at the annual show. He expects to buy the next model at the show, too.
“The show is wonderful because everything is in one place,” he says.
Sallows says RVing is like driving in your home away from home and is an easier and more economical way to travel, without all the hassles of catching planes, buses, and booking hotel rooms.
“Both of my kids love camping and hiking because they have grown up with it,” he says. I believe they have a greater appreciation for the natural world because they have had so many opportunities to explore it.” ❚
Around 83% of RVs built in North America are built in Indiana, says Rose.
More young people are getting into RVing, says Rose. Nearly 22% of owners now fall between the ages of 18 and 34.