Throughout last week’s five-day run crowds packed the turnstiles leading into the Giant Center’s expansive grounds as America’s Largest RV Show lived up to its billing with record attendance of 57,692 for the annual event in Hershey, Pa.
Aided by picture perfect weather, the show’s Sept. 14-18 Public Days surpassed previous highs every day except for Sunday’s closing.
“We couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Heather Leach, executive vice president for the host Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA), told RVBUSINESS.com. “The first day was the hottest, but after that we were in the high 70’s to low 80’s with beautiful blue skies.
“They forecasted rain for Sunday – which didn’t happen – so that may have kept some people away. But that was the only day that we didn’t see record attendance. The exhibits were basically busy from opening day all the way through.”
This year’s head count topped the previous attendance record of 52,191 achieved during last year’s show. And, according to Leach, attendees were in a buying mood.
“There were sold signs hanging on an awful lot of RVs,” she said. “I guess the biggest indicator that we were having a good show is that hardly anyone was coming into the office. That means they’re busy.
She added, “I talked to several dealers, and a number of them told me it was their best show ever. Our booth vendors were also very happy with the results. A lot of the exhibitors were already inquiring about next year.”
Leach reported that this year’s edition offered an improved configuration for outdoor display areas.
“We moved some exhibitors around to increase traffic flow,” she said. “We will be holding a post-show meeting to evaluate the change, but it made sense since the numbers keep going up. It’s important to have a nice flow throughout the show.”
The Hershey Show is historically viewed as a harbinger for the industry as OEMs present new models to consumers for the first time. PRVCA reported that this year’s event featured 47 manufacturers “” including six park model builders “” showing around 1,350 units. First-time manufacturers included Chinook RV, Happy Trails RV and Germany-based Erwin Hymer Group, which last February purchased Roadtrek Motorhomes Inc.
In addition some 165 suppliers “” up from 152 last year “” are manning booths both inside the Giant Center and on the grounds, which this year will cover more than 1 million square feet.
“I think the show’s success is a sign that the industry is in good shape,” Leach noted. “It’s been a great year and it doesn’t look like things are slowing down.”