By Jeff Jefcoat, F118344, National President
Each year during the week following Thanksgiving, a gigantic recreation vehicle trade show is staged in Louisville, Kentucky. This event — which ranks as one of the largest trade shows in the United States — is sponsored by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). You might wonder, “Where have I seen that name before?” Chances are there is an RVIA emblem on the side of your motorhome, near the entry door. This emblem indicates that the manufacturer of the motorhome is a member of RVIA and has agreed to comply with more than 500 safety specifications in the production of the vehicle.
The National RV Trade Show includes every type of recreation vehicle, along with suppliers to the RV industry, such as companies that make awnings, generators, etc. This is a trade show, so it is not open to the general public. It enables manufacturers to show their new lines for the coming year, so dealers can select the models and lines they plan to carry and display on showroom floors and sales lots.
As noted, the RVs on display include not only motorhomes but also towable RVs. Probably the smallest towable vehicle I saw was an A-frame pop-up that was approximately 5 feet by 6 feet and could sleep two people. Some of the travel trailers and fifth-wheel RVs were as super-deluxe as any motorhome. The motorhomes, of course, included all sizes and features. We even saw a 40-footer that was set up as a limousine-type vehicle and tailored for tailgating, fishing, or golf outings. Abundant amounts of seating lined the front and rear of the coach. The coach had a bathroom but no shower, and the cockpit area could be closed off from the passengers.
What is FMCA’s interest in this show? In short, this is where the “rubber meets the road.” As we do each year, FMCA had an exhibit booth at the 2001 Louisville show. This is an excellent time for us to sign up new commercial members, chat with potential magazine advertisers and convention exhibitors, and in general to answer any questions our commercial friends might have.
Traditionally, lottery-type drawings for exhibit spaces at the FMCA winter convention have been held in conjunction with the Louisville show. This process was very time-consuming and, except for the person who had the next draw, not all that interesting. Sometimes the space drawing lasted late into the evening. This year, the decision was made to have the convention staff conduct the space drawing by proxy at the national office in Cincinnati, which is the same process that is used for the summer convention. This was done prior to the National RV Trade Show, and we enjoyed the “unveiling” of the spaces in Louisville. Everyone present seemed very pleased by this.
Please keep in mind that most of the motorhome manufacturers that exhibit their products at FMCA’s two international conventions were present at the RVIA show, along with many of the supplier exhibitors. These same companies also are our major magazine advertisers, and many of them also support the 10 area rallies that FMCA holds from January through October each year. Instead of devoting time to the space drawing, we were able to treat FMCA’s commercial supporters to hors d’oeuvres and live music. The approximately 500 people who attended were most positive and appreciative.
Nowhere in North America can one find a larger representation of RV manufacturers and dealers assembled at one location than at the RVIA show in Louisville. Similarly, no other place in North America offers a better and larger selection of motorhomes from which to shop in one location than our FMCA conventions. Representatives from FMCA at the National RV Trade Show included national officers; staff directors from the convention, publishing, and administrative departments; and staff from these departments. I consider participation in the RVIA show to be an excellent investment of FMCA’s time and resources.
A new name for FMCA conventions
To reflect the scope of FMCA’s international conventions, we have developed a new name for the events, and will start using the name with the Hutchinson, Kansas, convention this coming October. The Hutchinson convention, which will take place October 1, 2, and 3, will be called “FMCA’s 68th Premier International Motorhome Extravaganza.” Subsequent conventions will have the same name, except the number will be updated. We will still have a theme for each of the events. The theme for the Hutchinson convention will be Motor “Home On The Range.”
Even before that, we hope that you will make plans to join us in Perry, Georgia, for FMCA’s “Southern Sensation” convention. This issue of the magazine includes a variety of information intended to whet your appetite for the good things to come in Perry. Be sure to check out the convention “side trip” features, which offer suggestions regarding places to visit either before or after the convention; the preview of daytime and evening entertainment; and the convention parking procedures.
A registration form appears on pages 144 A and B of this issue. The preregistration deadline is February 22. Hope to see you there!