In an effort to extend its brand through a wide variety of innovative formats, Winnebago Industries Inc. is expecting to draw as many as 20,000 country music fans this Memorial Day weekend to its 2nd annual “Tree Town Country Music Festival” for performances by C&W luminaries Deirks Bentley, Rascal Flatts and Blake Shelton.
The festival at Winnebago’s Forest City, Iowa, rally grounds is all part of an ongoing metamorphosis that publicly held Winnebago has been implementing in its drive to evolve from what Winnebago Chairman, CEO and President Randy Potts describes as “Grandpa’s Winnebago” to a more modern corporate entity.
“Most of you know that I’ve been at Winnebago for over three decades and, like many of you, I’ve seen a lot of changes in our industry,” Potts told dealers at early April’s Dealer Days in Las Vegas. “There have been many realignments and consolidations of manufacturers and also component suppliers. And I think we would all agree that some of those changes haven’t worked out real well for dealers or for consumers.
“But in all fairness,” he added, “you’ve also seen us change. We’re not the company we were just a few years ago. Yes, we’ve grown, and, hopefully, your business has grown with us. But growth isn’t the only change in our business. We think about our products and the market differently. We operate differently, and we look to the future differently.”
The Tree Town Festival, a prime example of Winnebago’s new perspective, begins on Thursday evening and runs through Sunday night, with performances scheduled on several stages throughout that time, explained Director of Marketing Chad Reece, noting that last year’s first go-round was a pretty good “learning experience” for 2015.
“Yes, last year was the inaugural year,” said Reece, “so it was a learning experience, and the people (the promoters) that we worked with last year brought this to us and were able to put together a very good event, and I believe the headcount at that was around 15,000. So we’re expecting some additional growth this year, based on what we’re seeing, and it will be north of 20,000 people coming to Forest City for that weekend.
“So, it’s an excellent opportunity for our community and our area, and it’s a great opportunity for the Winnebago Outdoor brand and our Winnebago brand overall because we get to expose these people to our products and the lifestyle that they could benefit from, so we feel it’s a good fit.”
Indeed, the three-and-a-half day Tree Town Music Festival is intended to reach both rock fans, with classic rock band 38 Special performing first, and on-stage C&W acts after that.
“We draw people from a very large geographical area into our little corner of the Midwest. We’re uniquely positioned,” Reece told RVBUSINESS.com, “not just geographically with our facility and the assets we have in place. But we can utilize tremendous camping facilities that we use for our rally grounds. And we work together with the community and the people who are active promoters for this and it’s been a good fit. So we’re looking forward to another good year.”