Consumers were drawn to the wide variety of RVs on display during the RV and Outdoor Sports show at the Civic Center in Mankato, Minn., as participating dealers enjoyed strong sales.

“We’re very optimistic it’s going to be a great year,” said Lisa Keepers of Keepers RV in Mankato.

The Mankato Free Press reported that Kimberly Kroubetz, of Kroubetz Lakeside Campers in Lake Crystal, said RVing is continuing an upward swing in popularity and lower fuel prices and a booming local economy are helping.

“We had our highest sales ever here (at the show) last year,” Kroubetz said.

She said the strong farm economy during the recession helped hold up sales and noted that the Midwest has been a hotbed for those dreaming of hitting the open road, be it in a popup camper or a mega RV the size of a bus.

“In the Midwest there’s lakes and campgrounds everywhere.”

Keepers said the lower fuel prices give an added boost. “It’s wonderful in two ways. People aren’t spending as much on gas and they have a little more money in their pocket.”

The dealers said the latest trend is for campers that have more slideouts — areas of the vehicle that slide out the side when parked to provide extra living space.

“They want more opposing slideouts where you walk in and have slideouts both ways so there’s a lot of open space,” Keepers said.

Kroubetz said more people are also looking for rigs with “toy haulers” in the back. The RVs have the normal rooms up front but contain a separate room on back with a folddown door where four-wheelers, canoes, kayaks, motorcycles or other toys can be carried.

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