National RV show likely to remain in Bluegrass state
Posted: 06/20/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Marilyn Odendahl
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The THOR Motorcoach booth at the RVIA tradeshow in Louisville KY.
There was lots of foot traffic around the RV national Trade Show in Louisville, Ky. (Truth Photo By Tom Fougerousse)
A blur of dealers & sales reps at the 2011 RVIA Tradeshow in Louisville KY.
Year after year, recreational vehicle manufacturers, dealers and suppliers along with bankers, attorneys, industry analysts and the occasional elected official have all convened in Louisville the week after Thanksgiving for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s National RV Trade Show.
Oh sure, there was that dalliance the industry had with Atlanta in 1986, but the following year it returned to the River City, where the show had been held since 1962 and has been held ever since.
Currently, the RVIA is considering changing the date of its big event possibly as soon as 2014 but most likely will remain true to Louisville. The association has recently looked at venues in other cities but it could find nothing that was big enough to accommodate the towables, motorhomes, supplier booths and all the people, according to Gregg Fore, chairman of the RVIA board of directors.
In Louisville, the RV show is held at the Kentucky Exposition Center, which sits on 500 acres just off I-65 and has 1.2 million square feet under one roof, including the storied Freedom Hall. It is the sixth-largest exposition facility in the U.S., according to Amanda Storment, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Exposition Center.
Recently, the RVIA board of directors voted to support a motion by the association’s show committee to reschedule the annual show in the late September/early October time frame. Staying in Louisville is contingent on the site being open and hotel rooms being available during the potential new dates, Fore said.
However, the association examined convention places in Chicago, Cleveland and Indianapolis, but none offered the space that Louisville does, Fore said. Elkhart County was not even in the running because it does not have a building large enough to hold all the units and the RVIA does not want to put the show outdoors.
“You’re only one thunderstorm away from a problem,” Fore said. “It doesn’t rain inside.”
For 2012 and 2013, nothing is changing. The National RV Trade Show will be the week after the Thanksgiving holiday in Louisville. Yet, in 2014, the event may be pushed forward as part of the industry’s attempt to reduce the number of retail shows and conventions that pop up the latter half of the calendar.
“It gets very crowded for everybody not only from an expense standpoint but from a time standpoint,” Fore said.
The proposed fall date conflicts with the annual RV Open House Week held in Elkhart County and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association’s International Convention and Expo held in Las Vegas.
Forest River president and CEO Pete Liegl, who started open house show, essentially gave his blessing to the new dates, saying whatever the dealers want, they will get. Likewise, the RVDA also said it would consider adjusting the dates of its event to facilitate an earlier RVIA function.
“Moving the dates of the convention several weeks later in the year would allow RVDA to keep the convention’s focus on continuing education and association business as well as explore new opportunities with our business partners,” RVDA chairman of the board Andy Heck stated in a press release.