With more than 4,000 RVs converged on Hutchinson, Kan., June 21-24 for the Great North American RV Rally (GNAR), Sunflower State campgrounds overflowed with RVers, according to Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM).
“We had more than we wanted and then some,” said Kurt Egli, owner of Hitchin Post RV Park in Yoder, a 20-site park 12 miles from the Kansas State Fairgrounds, where the rally, sponsored by Affinity Group Inc. (AGI), took place. AGI is the parent of WCM, RV Business and RVBUSINESS.com.
Even campgrounds a good distance from Hutchinson saw their business spike
dramatically.
“We are never full, but we were full for all of June,” said Ruth Gay, owner of Gunsmoke Trav-L-Park in Dodge City, about 100 miles west of Hutchinson.
“We had to turn people away to Wal-Mart because we didn’t have any place to put them. And the nearest campground, 45 miles away, was full, too.”
GNAR attracted more than 4,100 consumer-owned motorhomes and towables, and almost another 1,000 were displayed by 35 dealers at the show. About 10,000 people attended, while 535 vendors displayed their wares.
The more than 10 inches of rain that fell during the five days before the rally created some problems finding dry space for some 1,800 RVs during setup, organizers reported.
“The rain and the crowd took a toll on our park,” Gay said, noting that the fairgrounds played host to a rainy Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA)
international convention in 2002. “We had a lot of rutting and the like. Each time they have a rally in Hutchinson, you learn a little more about what to do and what not to do. Overall, it was a very positive experience.”
In Oakley, some 290 miles west of Hutchinson, Mary Arlington, owner of High
Plains Camping in Oakley, said she saw business before, during and after the rally. “We had some of the organizers in here three weeks before the rally,” she said. “And we got some people who left the rally early because of the rain and the mud.”
Arlington said that those staying at her park after the rally’s conclusion were in extremely high spirits. “The after-rally overnighters – their enthusiasm was as high as I’ve ever seen. You could tell they’d had a good time in spite
of it all.”
Overflow from the rally also filled the 55-site All Season RV Campground in Wichita, 60 miles southeast of Hutchinson, according to owner Dorothy Rowe.
“We got a lot of people who made reservations for the rally but, because of the rain and the mud, came here,” she said. “It was quite a challenge for us.”
Fifty miles west of the fairgrounds, Larry Olson, owner of Pine Haven Retreat in St. John, said that three days before the rally he parked 62 units in his campground, which has only 40 sites.
On that same day, said Olsen, who co-owns Spring Lake RV Resort in Halstead, 18 miles east of Hutchinson, 300 RVs were jammed into his 180-site park.
“That was kind of packing them in here,” he said. “We were fortunate that when the event was actually going on we had beautiful weather. We got some really good business for a solid three weeks.”