In light of the current condition of the Elkhart (Ind.) County economy, Newmar Inc., Nappenee, Ind., will hold its 24th Annual International Kountry Klub Rally Aug. 3-8 at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds rather than in Perry, Ga., as originally planned.

 Established in 1985, the Newmar Kountry Klub is an exclusive club for owners of Newmar products. Currently, membership exceeds 3,500 members.

 “Newmar’s decision to move the rally made sense given the current economic state the county is in,” said Barney Barnett, Newmar International Kountry Klub director, in a press release. “Newmar is located in Elkhart County and we wanted to do something to help support local business and drive traffic to the county.”

 The club has over 360 confirmed reservations and expects to end up with between 500 and 600 units participating in the rally at the fairgrounds.

 “Surprisingly reservations are coming in ahead of where we have been in years past,” said Barnett. “We are hoping this is a good sign and that our expectations will be exceeded.”

 Barnett and his staff have been working with local vendors to plan several of the events and classes that will take place during the rally. One project of particular interest has been tote bags the club will be using as  welcome gifts.

The bags are being made in Goshen by former RV workers who have been laid off as a result of the RV industry downturn. The fabric being used to make the bags has been purchased or donated from scrap material from RV manufacturers and suppliers who have gone out of business or who have had to cut back in production.

The making of these bags has created new jobs and is gaining popularity. Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee received one during his recent visit to Elkhart County. All of the items in the bags are from local businesses.      

Along with Newmar factory tours, several other local tours have been arranged for rally participants, including the Nappanee Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival, A Foodies Delight Tour in Amish Country, American Countryside Farmers Market Dinner and Theater and in-home Amish meals.

 “Newmar is looking forward to this year’s rally,” said Matthew Miller, Newmar president and chairman of the Klub’s Board of Directors. “We are confident the RV industry will turn around and we wanted to get together with our Klub members close to home for a week of fellowship and to show our loyal owners that Newmar and Elkhart County are open for business.”