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Hershey Show attendees filled the gates on opening day

With a first day attendance of 10,083 — easily surpassing last year’s record of 9,025 —America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., was yet another sign the industry is humming along on all cylinders. (To view a slideshow scroll to the right side of the RVBUSINESS.com home page. Photos by Kirk Zutell and Rick Kessler).

Not even the day’s weather conditions, which started off with off-and-on showers, kept consumers from coming to the Giant Center intent on seeing the newest RVs at the show, which features 45 manufacturers and 158 supplier/vendor booths on 1.2 million square feet of display space.

Organizers for the host Pennsylvania RV & Campground Association (PRVCA), indicated it’s entirely possible the 2017 edition, which runs through Sept. 17, could take a run at last year’s overall attendance record of 57,692.

“We’re off to a great start to a great week. It was a little rainy today, so that’s always a factor, but we just had an exhibitor come in at five o’clock and he said it was the first break he had all day. So that’s always a good sign,” PRVCA Executive Vice President Heather Leach told RVBUSINESS.com.

“It’s been phenomenal,” agreed Gary Conley, national sales manager for Lance Camper Manufacturing Corp. “The attendance has been really good, especially considering we’ve had rain. We’ve sold seven units so far, so the buyers are out. The attitude is good. And there are a lot of first-time buyers as well as people who’ve been looking for a long period of time. There’s also people from many different states — one person told me they drove 10 hours to get here.”

Mentioning he’ll be working well into the evening due to the number of orders, Jim Colton of New York-based Colton RV said the first day went “very well. It was busier than last year. It’s very good for a senior day and, in particular, units in this segment — higher-end motorized — were hot today.”

Likewise, Don Strollo, president of RV One Superstores Inc. whose multi-state dealership includes two locations in New York, told RVBUSINESS.com the first day’s traffic was noticeably better than last year and he was optimistic they would take a run at the 111 high-end diesel pushers they sold in 2016.

When asked why the attendance figures at not just America’s Largest RV Show were so big, but seemingly all consumers shows this year, Strollo said it’s a matter of so many new people coming into the market, including Millennials, as well as older buyers staying in the lifestyle longer.

“It’s pretty exciting because this is my 20th year at Hershey; years ago it was at the state Farm Show Complex at Harrisburg. To see the increase in traffic that we’re seeing year over year at Hershey is awesome,” Strollo said.