Over 650 RVs and 1,400 campers gathered for this week’s 6th Annual International Forest River Owners Group (FROG) International Rally at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in Goshen, Ind. Company officials reported that 35 Forest River brands were represented during the Aug. 12-18 event which officially got underway on Monday with a kickoff dinner.
According to FROG Director Bob Byrne, the rally continues to grow in an RV market where many formal owners’ clubs are decreasing in active membership. He thinks one of the major reasons for the growth is the number of first-time buyers joining the club.
“A full 40% of our people here are first timers so we are really excited about that,” said Byrne. “Somewhere around 250 units here are first timers. To me this means we are continuing to get the word out and new people are coming to join us for all the fun.”
Byrne told RVBUSINESS .com that first timers traveled from 32 states to attend the FROG rally. “Some of them are young families with kids,” he noted. “Some are middle-aged retirees just starting out. Some are older. It really cuts across the full spectrum with good representation from all ages.”
According to Byrne, membership for the owners group has grown to include over 88,000 families. “We are absolutely astounded and also excited at the way the organization continues to grow,” he offered. “I certainly can’t take the credit. I think it speaks more to the quality of Forest River as a company, the products we build and the way we treat people.”
The FROG rally opened with early registration on Aug. 9. Byrne reported that by Sunday two thirds of the participants were in place at the fairgrounds ready to begin the six nights of camping and planned activities. “Over the period of a week we have four major dinners and six full breakfasts,” said Byrne.
He added that product repair, maintenance and use seminars were supported this year by 80 different vendors. “We have exactly 100 seminars that we are doing. It’s a great opportunity for people to learn about their units, and learn about how to fix and maintain the various brands we support.”
Forest River also is hosting factory tours during the rally with a fleet of 26 buses traveling to various production plants in the area so members can see how their units are being built. In addition, 16 buses are taking members to area attractions, including a prime rib dinner cruise on Lake Wawasee along with tours through Notre Dame and the Studebaker Museum. Meals at Das Essenhaus are a big draw as well as a visit to the Auburn Cord Duisenberg Museum.
“Here at the fairgrounds we have a couple of nights of live musical entertainment and our famous ice cream social with free ice cream,” he said. “Really the focus is on meeting other Forest River owners, getting back together with old friends and making new friends. We try to make it a fun and family-oriented event.
“We always say that the purpose of the organization is fun, friends and FROG. But even more importantly it’s a thank you and an appreciation to our owners. Without the owners, we have nothing to do. We just use this as an opportunity to get with our owners and say thank you and to celebrate their choosing Forest River.”