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The short move from Harrisburg to nearby Hershey for the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association’s (PRVCA) annual combined trade and consumer RV show this fall is expected to result in an attendance boost.
The Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show will be Sept. 12-18 at the Giant Center in the Hersheypark Sport and Entertainment Complex after many years at the state-owned Farm Show Complex 16 miles west in Harrisburg.
“We expect to exceed our numbers from last year, both in attendance and in space sales,” said Rebecca Lennington, PRVCA executive vice president. “We really should see 40,000 people this year.”
The 2004 show in Harrisburg, limited to six days because of its Labor Day week timing, drew 31,436 retail consumers while 2,085 industry representatives attended the two trade show days that opened the annual event – the East Coast’s largest annual industry showcase.
To build up the Pennsylvania show’s trade components, the 2005 edition will feature a renewed emphasis on dealer education, with special seminars in sales, marketing and dealership management scheduled early on each of the first three days.
Also on the trade and consumer side, manufacturers’ clubs will have an official presence at the show for the first time. Some 1,400 club members are expected to participate with dealers and manufacturers in some of the trade-show activities, including the industry party Monday night featuring entertainment by country singer Ronnie Milsap.
“It’s going to more of an ‘event’ than ever before,” Lennington said.
PRVCA’s decision last fall to move to the Giant Center seemed particularly forward-looking after the newly expanded State Farm Complex’s executive director resigned in March warning that the facility faced difficulties without substantial improvements to compete for conventions and shows, especially with its existing space rental pricing. Fees had increased 49% in two years.
“We saw the problems,” Lennington said. “I was having difficulty communicating with them, and it seemed impossible to make them understand the importance of certain improvements that we needed to display our products.
“It’s a difference between night and day working with a facility that is customer friendly. Giant Center is more in tune with the needs that you have when you bring a large number of people together.”
Of particular note is that parking at the Giant Center will be free to show participants and retail customers. The State Farm Complex charged a $5 parking fee with no in-and-out privileges, which was a particular irritant to the show’s commercial participants.
“People became frustrated with the lack of parking in Harrisburg,” Lennington said. “That’s not a problem in Hershey.”
In the new facility, supplier exhibitors will display indoors, while manufacturers will exhibit outdoors in conjunction with licensed Pennsylvania dealers around the Giant Center’s perimeter.