By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The self-styled “Recreational Vehicle Capital of the World” will have that title showcased this week as thousands of dealers from across the region converge on Elkhart County for the fifth annual RV Open House.
Originally begun five years ago by RV manufacturer Forest River as a smaller, company-only event, the annual open house has since grown to include nearly ever RV company in the area in what has become one of the biggest centralized RV sales events of its kind.
Beginning Tuesday and running through Thursday, the RV Open House is strictly reserved for dealers in most cases and generally not open to the public. Instead, the event focuses primarily on giving dealers their first real look at all the new and improved offerings from area RV manufacturers that may grace their showroom floors in the coming year.
Among those with plans to participate in the event this year is RV manufacturing giant Thor Industries, whose displays will be located exclusively on the property of Elkhart’s RV Hall of Fame.
“We have over 300 units at the RV Hall of Fame,” said Bob Martin, president and chief operating officer of Thor Industries. “We have products from all of our divisions: Keystone, Dutchmen, CrossRoads, Heartland, Airstream and Thor Motorcoach. So we’ll have separate displays for each of those and then one larger Thor Industries display.”
As with most RV Open House shows, the Thor show is strictly by-invitation-only, though that didn’t keep Martin from anticipating a huge turnout for this year’s event overall.
“We’re expecting well over 2,000 people in a three-day period,” Martin said. “We’re actually anticipating larger crowds than previous years. If you drive down C.R. 6 in Elkhart, there are even more displays this year than last year. As we’ve spoken to dealers throughout the year, we’ve found that we have more registrations, and I know that some of the dealers that weren’t able to make the open house last year are planning to attend. So we’re looking at this as definitely bigger and better than ever before.”
The same seemed to hold true over at fellow RV manufacturing heavyweight Forest River, where officials within the corporation put forth a similar prediction of huge crowds this year.
Forest River will host a majority of its displays in and around the grounds of the company’s Dynamax facility on C.R. 6.
All in all, the company plans to display as many as 600 units during the three-day event, with representation from each of its various business units such as Palomino RV, Shasta and Primetime Manufacturing. And as with previous years, shuttle buses will be made available to shuttle dealers between the various RV displays.
In addition to Thor and Forest River, many other area RV manufacturers are also looking to get in on the action during this week’s open house.
Included among those manufacturers slated to make an appearance are Topeka-based Starcraft RV Inc., which will be displaying 35 towable models from its 2013 towable lineup at 2702 Ada Drive in Elkhart, just off of C.R. 6.
Also planning to participate are RV parts suppliers Lippert Components Inc. and its sister company Kinro Inc., who will be hosting their own dealer open house beginning Monday and running through Thursday on Glenview Drive in Elkhart.
EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC of Middlebury will also make an appearance with plans to unveil its new 2013 Sun Valley travel trailer at its display site on Executive Parkway near the entrance to the RV Hall of Fame.
Also getting in on the mix is Shipshewana-based Venture RV, which will be displaying its new line, the SportTrek lightweight travel trailer, at its display location just south of the intersection of C.R. 6 and C.R. 15 in Elkhart.