Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hershey RV Show 2012

Last weekend I drove a few miles up US Route 322 to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for the Hershey RV Show.  This is advertised as the largest RV show in the country.  I can't really confirm that claim, but I can tell you that it is HUGE!  I walked around some of the RV vendors to see what improvements the manufacturers have thought up in the 3 years since I was last at the show.  I won't claim this is an all encompassing review of the show, but I will give you a few of my impressions.

First, the show is on the grounds of the Giant Center, where the Hershey Bears play hockey.  The show has both inside and outside events.  Inside the stadium are the displays from the accessory vendors and the location of the various seminars.  I did take time to sit in on one seminar and I learned quite a lot.

The main floor of the stadium was crowded with various accessory vendors.  This is a shot from the stadium seats of the main floor.  The area outside the main floor was packed with food vendors, some overflow of vendors from the main floor, and lots of RV parks, campgrounds, and resorts.  The seminar meeting rooms were also around the area surrounding the main floor.

I decided to go to the "Fulltime and Extended RV Travel" seminar, by Bob Marx.  Bob was gracious enough

to allow me to take his picture for this blog.  Bob is a great seminar leader.  Besides giving advice, his stories from his own travels serve as examples of fulltime RV living.  I won't try to rehash everything he told us in the seminar, but there is one piece of advice I found interesting.  While he did strongly suggest that we try living in an RV before jumping in with both feet (a piece of advise, that you probably know by now, I'm not going to follow), he recommended that you go fulltime, not extended.  While he and his wife Sheryl are currently in the "extended RV'ing" lifestyle, he made it clear that it is not a good idea.  The financial and logistical problems of traveling for a long period of time in an RV while maintaining a bricks and sticks home add substantial expense and headaches for the RV'er.

After Bob's excellent seminar, I went back outside to the RV vendors.  I couldn't find a high enough location to get a real overall view of the show, but here is a picture of a small part of the RV's on display.
Besides the hundreds of RV's of all configurations on display, what you can't see in these pictures are the HersheyPark amusement park, the Chocolate World factory tour, and the Zoo America animal park, all of which are on the same grounds that holds the RV show.  There are free shuttles that carry you from each venue to the others.  If you haven't ever made it to the Hershey RV show, make of point of getting here next year.  You won't be disappointed.

Now, for my impressions of the new 2013 RV's on display.  Well, first of all, the RV makers have finally figured out how to utilize flat screen TV's.  They no longer hang them over the cockpit area.  Instead, they have them popping up from behind the dinette or sliding over a window.  The bedrooms have more storage area and the electronics have become state-of-the-art.  And I wasn't looking at the million dollar units.  I focused on the under 35 foot, under $200,000.00 class A units.  In fact, some of the best looking units were the under $150,000.00 RV's.

I also noticed that the "split bathroom" seems to be on its way out. Many of the units I looked at had the shower attached directly to the "water closet", rather than across the hall.  Of course, this means modifying the rest of the floor plan.  Often the dinette is now directly across from the sofa in the main cabin area.  May take some getting used to for some people. 

Another change I noticed is that the new RV's are often using house-style refrigerators, rather than the propane/electrical powered evaporation units.  This leads me to believe that the manufacturers feel that most RV's are used mainly in RV parks, not while boondocking.  While you could boondock while running the refrigerator using the genset, it seems obvious that RV park (or resort) living is the primary target market of these class A's  The times, they are a-changin'.

Of course, I did have to peek at a couple of the high-end units, just to know what I'll be missing.  lol.  In any case, while I'm no expert on RV's, I can say the rigs are becoming more comfortable and better organized.  It looks like another good year to be an RV'er.

So, that's my short review of the Hershey show.  I hope it entices you to make a trip to my home state next year to see the largest RV show in the U.S.  Besides the show and all the attractions in the HersheyPark area, Lancaster County, home to the Amish and various Pennsylvania Dutch groups, is less than 30 minutes away.  And the weather...well look at the pictures.  It was a wonderful weekend in the area.  Hope to see you here next year.

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