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RVers’ The Rally Gets Off to a Strong Start

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

The 11th annual “The Rally,” sponsored by Affinity Group Inc., parent company of MotorHome magazine, opened this morning with a rush of humanity bursting into the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.

“It was like opening the gates to a rock concert,” said Terry Thompson,
AGI vice president of sales, RV media division. “We opened at 10 a.m.
and you can’t walk through the aisles. It’s jammed wall to wall with

The Rally has attracted the owners of more than 2,500 RVs from all
parts of North America to enjoy atmosphere, which includes some 1,000
new RVs on display, 500 vendor booths, 120 educational seminars and
nightly entertainment.

For the first time, all exhibitor booths and RV displays are inside
the center’s South Wing, which is an added bonus to this year’s event,
as the weather outside is hot and humid.

“We knew it was hot in July in Kentucky but we didn’t know it was this hot,” Thompson said.

The Rally early-bird events got off to a good start Wednesday afternoon with a Coach Preview from 3 to 6 p.m.

“It was jammed with people, units were sold, things went better
than they expected. We don’t always have a preview but we’re glad we did
it,” Thompson said.

He called The Rally a “shot in the arm” for the RV industry.

Sherman Goldenberg, publisher of RVBusiness magazine and RVBUSINESS.com, echoed Thompson’s observation on The Rally’s early going, from the bulging crowds to the manufacturers’ early responses.

“Manufacturers seem to be upbeat,” Goldenberg said. ”The Rally
seems to be particularly well-timed, pulling together a nice number of
consumers at a time there would have been no national event. They appear
to be happy about that.”

Thompson added, “When you have every aisle in an hall selling
product, it shows you they (consumers) are alive and kicking, using
their units and buying new units. I view it as a great commercial for
the RV industry. This is the heartbeat right here; these are the people
getting it done.”

Thompson said show sponsors expect a big day crowd to attend the event, which runs through Sunday.

AGI President Mike Schneider noted The Rally’s growth since its inception 11 years ago.

“We’re at the level with the show where we want to be to help
service the industry, where additional exposure to the RV lifestyle and
additional sales opportunities are important. That’s where we see our
role in both those areas,” Schneider said. “The event itself speaks to
the vibrancy of the market and Affinity’s role as a conduit between the
industry and the consumers. We see ourselves providing a number of
different forums that the industry can reach the consumer when they are
thinking RV. We do it through magazines, websites, shows and this rally,
among other places.”

Schneider tonight will host the Good Sam Club’s Welcome Mat Awards
program, which annually recognizes RV-friendly business across the U.S.

Comedian Bob Newhart will entertain the crowd tonight, with Tanya Tucker scheduled for Friday night.

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