Making their annual pilgrimage to Florida’s Hernando County this week are some 1,300 recreational vehicles — from behemoths with multiple slides, cushy upholstery and entertainment electronics to basic tag-alongs with the bare necessities.
According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, the 28th annual Southeast area Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally began filling slots last weekend at a 35-acre site at the Hernando County Airport, where the event runs from Wednesday (Feb. 4) through Sunday.
Advance reservations translate to some 2,600 visitors, said rally chairman and Southeast area president Charlie Schrenkel. Although the area covers Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, the RVs are trundling in from almost every state, he added, as far away as California. Some will call in at the last minute, so the tally is likely to rise.
The number of homes on wheels making the trip is down about 200 from last year’s attendance.
“I don’t think the price of gasoline is a factor,” Schrenkel said. “I think it’s just the world economy and the unknown.”
Overall membership in the association is off as well.
The entire RV industry across the country has slowed, with some dealerships having gone out of business or into bankruptcy, Schrenkel said.
On the other hand, some people are leaving land-based homes, buying RVs and moving into them until the economy stabilizes, he said.
They’ll find good shopping opportunities at the rally. Coach and chassis manufacturers and RV dealers with displays on site number 11, up by two from last year.
The Times reported that more than 200 vendors, including “a bunch of new vendors,” Schrenkel noted, will fill the commercial exhibitors’ tent with all sorts of RV and camper amenities, from hydraulic waste disposal systems and satellite TV dishes to window tints and electric mobility scooters. Also in the mix are booths promoting RV and camper resorts from Florida to Michigan.
In addition, the rally is an educational event, with seminars daily on such subjects as insurance, refrigerator maintenance, safe driving, weight and tire safety, electricity and fire issues, and fuel mileage extension measures. Another is titled “How to Retire and Enjoy It.”