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RV show beings crowd to Lee Civic Center; event continues through the weekend

January 24, 2014
Pine Island Eagle

The 29th annual Fort Myers Recreation Vehicle Show is under way at the Lee Civic Center .

And it's a camping enthusiast's dream as they get to see, tour and, if they have the urge, buy an RV at the show sponsored by the Florida RV Trade Association.

Thousands came on opening day on Thursday to see the latest models, browse the vendors and perhaps make a deal for a trade or purchase.

The show features hundreds of new RVs on display, both on the grounds and in the arena, in all sizes and brands including gas and diesel motorhomes, fifth wheels, travel trailers, toy haulers, park models, and van, truck and folding campers from 14 different dealers throughout Southwest Florida.

The event also features more than 100 booth vendors selling hard-to-find camping extras, camping locations, RV insurance, mobile phone services and more, along with free entertainment.

The RVs were coming in as early as Tuesday, with vendors arriving to set up on Wednesday for the Thursday opening for the four-day event that continues through Sunday.

And there was a huge line of people waiting to get in, not only to take advantage of the free parking and discounted ticket prices, but for the deals that could be had.

Many of the motorhomes could be had for a maximum of $200,000, with the nicest towables under $100,000, which is pretty good when you consider some Class A coaches can cost millions.

The Class A coaches were all fully furnished, with working kitchens and bathrooms. They also had multiple televisions, with a few even having artificial fireplaces to add ambience.

Many who were there were impressed. Brenda Carpenter, who was visiting from Virginia, already owned an RV and wanted to see how she could improve on their current model.

"We want to enhance the one that we have. When you get the Class A, you need mechanical knowledge and experience in how things operate," Carpenter said. "A lot of people can tow them, with a big pickup and not as many things go wrong."

Steve Hann, of Punta Gorda, has travelled the country in his current RV and came to look for a smaller Class A. The one he toured through was nice, but maybe a little too small.

"The coach we have now has gone up in value. They've gone up so much in price that it brings the value up," Hann said. "We're looking for a 40-footer. This is about 36. I also want a bigger engine."

The salesperson, Bud Vivian of Dream RV in Fort Myers, said many of the RVs he was selling were at a discount.

"The manufacturers give us some money to reduce the prices and pass that to the customer," Vivian said. "It shows the great value and they take advantage."

Vivian, like many others, travels to other RV shows in the region and sell their wares to the thousands of enthusiasts who go through the gates.

Jamie Hord of Palm Beach was selling his towable trailers in an outdoor area after doing shows throughout the state, and expected to do great business.

"We expect to sell 15 or 20 this week," Hord said. "We offer 20-year financing. The payments will be about $500 per month."

The show is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission is $8, with children under 16 free.

Parking is free courtesy of the RV Trade Association.



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