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Fort Myers RV Show draws thousands

February 1, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Pine Island Eagle

Whether you were there for a little pop-up trailer or to check out those $600,000 motor coaches, there was something for everyone at every age at the 32nd annual Fort Myers RV Show at the Lee Civic Center this weekend.

Up to 15,000 people showed up over the four-day event, which saw great weather the first two days and a bit of a chill the last two. However, the crowds kept coming as 15 RV dealers and more than 100 vendors were there to sell the RV lifestyle.

Dana Carver, show manager, said the first two days were encouraging, especially on the attendance and sales side.

"There's great interest from baby boomers and others who want to have outdoor adventures and we want to fill the need," Carver said. "We have a lot of units here and it too a lot of time to put it together. I'm excited in how the turnout has been."

Carver said it wasn't just the boomers coming out. Millennials were also coming to get a taste of their own adventures.

"The younger generations are living for the experience. RVing is an active lifestyle and a hands-on thing. You're not being catered to but doing the work yourself," Carver said. "They want to experience our nation and the outdoors. They may not be able to afford the luxury yachts, but they have the travel trailers."

Brandon Robinson was among those young people. He came with his wife and three small children in hopes of finding something he can go camping with, as he did when he was a kid. The question was a trailer or a coach?

"I've always liked the idea of camping and it's something I want to pass on to my kids. RVs seem like a great way to do it," Robinson said. "We want to see if a trailer is right for us or the coaches because the kids want to get up and move around and we don't have to stop as much."

He could have gone outside to see some of the more luxurious coaches that retail for close to $1 million and look like a mansion on wheels. Many of the motor coaches could be had for between $130,000 and $180,000.

Sandy Fitzek was an RV fan who happened upon a London Aire RV that sold for $650,000. She was loving everything she saw.

"It's very nice Everything is laid out well, very pretty and I like it. I didn't see the price," Fitzek said before she learned the cost and decided it was out of her budget. "I think they're doing a great job here and they got a great turnout for a Friday. I can't imagine what Saturday will be like."

Fitzek also commented that the sales people weren't being very aggressive, which she thought could be a good or bad thing. But with all the RV enthusiasts coming to one place, they could afford to be more passive and let potential customers come to them.

Paul Graef, manager at Camping World in Fort Myers, said this is the show they look forward to every year because they always do great at it.

"It's the Super Bowl for our business in Fort Myers and attendance is fantastic. They're buying RVs and trading them in and first-time buyers are coming," Graef said. "More dealers are coming here, attendance has grown between 10 and 12 percent every year."

Richard Jager, of Cross Creek RV Resort in Arcadia, a vendor at the event, said many people were interested in checking out their park thanks to some giveaways.

"People like the idea that it's away from all the traffic and are looking for a quieter park," Jager said, who was doing his very first show. "We love doing this. It's a great way to meet new people and encourage them to come to Cross Creek."



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