“March Madness” takes on a different connotation for the campground industry, as the month by default has evolved into an unofficial jumping off point to prepare for the summer season.

Woodall’s Campground Management reports that at least 12 established state associations, headed by the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO), will assemble during the month to review plans for the coming year, to spend time at educational seminars and attend vendor trade shows and expos.

Add in the Northeast Campground Association’s (NCA) 10-state Northeast Conference on Camping in Sturbridge, Mass., that occurs the same week as a bevy of meetings for franchisees of Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI) and you have a very busy month.

WACO Convention – Biggest of Them All

Nothing is busier than the WACO convention, set for March 20-24 in Stevens Point, Wis. The convention will outdraw the national conference in terms of campgrounds and vendors. WACO Executive Director Lori Severson anticipates attendance will top 600.

Special speakers include ARVC CEO Paul Bambei, who will address the luncheon on March 21, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who will speak at the banquet that evening. A number of state officials and outdoors representatives also are booked to address the massed audience and in smaller seminars.

Veteran campground consultant Bud Styer of Bud Styer & Associates, Lodi, Wis., and a WACO board member is a big booster of the WACO convention. “We have the largest trade show in the country,” Styer told Woodall’s Campground Management (WCM). “The ARVC show has 117 vendors. We average 195. And in 2013, we’ll have 50,000 more square feet. Our hope is to have 250 vendors by March. We’ve invited all our neighbors (parks in neighboring states).

“They have shows, yet the vendors only have one thing on their mind: they want buyers in front of them who are ready to buy,” added Styers. “We’ve designed our show so that we want our people to come with trucks and trailers prepared to buy things and haul them home. We want our vendors to have show specials and understand our people are here to buy. So give us a great product and give us a great price and everybody wins.”

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