All the traditional benchmarks seem to be pointing toward a record-setting turnout for this year’s 50th edition of America’s Largest RV Show, slated for Sept. 12-16 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. As usual, however, the one looming unknown is the weather.
“I put in my order a year ago for good weather,” said Heather Leach, executive director for the host Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA), noting that the organization is aiming to surpass last year’s attendance high of 64,242 during the event. “We’re always at the mercy of nature, but actually even when it did rain in years past we still had people show up. They know it happens for one week, once a year and even when the weather hasn’t cooperated, we see them lining up to come over the bridge.”
Occupying over 1 million square feet of space, the show will feature 156 booth vendors and around 1,400 RVs staged by 42 manufacturers spread throughout the expansive grounds at the Hershey Center.
“It will be a similar layout as the last couple of years,” Leach told RVBUSINESS.com. “I don’t think the Giant Center has made many changes beyond an additional food court outside. They do have planned additions to the park, but that won’t affect where we’re located.”
The show opens Sept. 10 with Education Day followed by Industry Day on Sept. 11, which affords dealers and media the opportunity to view new product and interact with company representatives.
PRVCA will again provide a comprehensive educational component, tailoring a full complement of seminars for both industry personnel and consumers. “Our educational offerings have been a cornerstone for the Hershey Show over the years,” Leach said. “We continue to bring in new speakers and offer sessions that cover a wide range of topics.”
In addition to the draw of the show’s 50th anniversary, Leach said that the event will also benefit from some marked changes related to the cluster of trade shows spanning from late September to late November that in past years has spread dealer and OEM personnel far too thin.
“They moved the (Elkhart) RV Open House event back a week, which is going to give OEMs a break,” she said. “And the Louisville Show is being restructured, and will not be running this year. That really helps our exhibitors because it’s always a long week at Hershey. I think both of those changes will have a positive impact on our show.
“We’ll see just how much impact when we have the Industry Days,” she added. “I think there will be a lot more dealers coming to look at product, which is what they would have done at Louisville.”
In a move also expected to boost attendance, PRVCA has extended the period for online purchasing of tickets up to the day of the show, which Leach said will help ease the entry process.
“Our online ticket sales are on a par with last year,” she said. “In the past we would have to stop by the end of July. I think people will take advantage of it because there’s always a huge line to buy tickets. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to get into the show.”
Additionally, there will be several events centered around the organization’s 50th anniversary highlighted by a dinner on Industry Day at the Antique Auto Museum.
“We’re going to have a lot of flashbacks from the last 50 years and celebrate where we came from and how much the show has grown,” Leach said. “We’ll also have our silent auction, and for the first time we will hand out a couple of awards to honor the volunteer of year and also a member for education achievement.”