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In The News

Whetting the Appetite for Camping

Category: RV News
Source: Rockford Register Star, Illinois
Publish Date: Saturday, March 29, 2008
Summary: RV Enthusiasts get excited for warmer weather during winter shows.

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By Geri Nikolai /RRSTAR.COM

Visitors walk around the Indoor Sports Center on March 29, 2008, for the annual RV, Camping and Travel Show in Loves Park.LOVES PARK — Winter, schminter. At the Indoor Sports Center on Saturday, the sun was rising on a clear summer day, the lake was without a ripple, and Ma and Pa America were enjoying a cup of joe in lawn chairs parked outside their RV.

At least, that’s how it felt to hundreds of families who can’t wait for camping weather.

The 37th annual RV, Camping and Travel Show filled the center wall-to-wall with all manner of motorhomes and camper trailers, exhibits on campgrounds and all kinds of doodads to make your camping experience easier. It was hard not to dream.

Connie Harper of Machesney Park said she and her husband agreed their priority this year is buying a home, but a new RV may be in the offing a couple years from now.

Campers are on display in the Indoor Sports Center on March 29, 2008, during the annual RV, Camping and Travel Show in Loves Park.They and their children, 5 and 2, have camped in an RV for four years, frequenting local forest preserves and campsites but also venturing to Wisconsin and the Dells.

Even with the price of gas, it’s an economical way to take a family vacation, said Harper.

“At the Dells, hotels are $200 to $300,” she said. “We can park our RV at a campground for $15 to $30, and have a campfire and everything.”

Duane Nichols, president of Showtime Productions which sponsors the show, swears that RV traveling is a better deal than the motel-restaurant route.

“A family of four can spend up to 50 percent less on an RV trip than in the normal motels and restaurants,” Nichols said.

The amount a family can invest varies, from $4,000-$5,000 for a basic camper trailer to more than $250,000 for a deluxe motor home, Nichols added.

Most people find something they like in the $15,000-$30,000 range, said Mark Farrell of Pontiac RV company, which brought models from downstate Pontiac to show.

Terry and Cheryl Davis look around inside the 2008 Big Country 3250TS RV at the annual RV, Camping and Travel Show on March 29, 2008, at the Indoor Sports Center in Loves Park.“Generally, we sell a handful here,” said Farrell.

He’s hearing a lot about gas prices but said RVers aren’t giving up their fun. They’re simply camping closer to home.

“These days, it’s more local,” he said. “They may find a spot to park their trailer and go back and forth on weekends.”

The show also featured campground information and products. There were golf carts to speed around campsites, four-wheelers to get more adventurous, bug zappers, food and cooking items, vehicles to pull RVs with and, even, “gas pills” to make those vehicles more efficient.

Aaron Wheeler, a distributor for Fuel Freedom International, swears the MPG-Caps will reduce harmful emissions, give you more power and 7-14 percent better mileage.

A half-pill treats the standard 15-gallon tank of gas, and it takes the third or fourth use to get all the benefits, he said. The pills are $2 each.

Shirley McKinney and Thomas Clark of Cherry Valley weren’t thinking about economy. The veteran campers, both 66, think they need a little bigger sleeping unit and, perhaps, a small car to tow behind their motorhome.

Corey Bockelmann (left) and his grandfather Dave check out the inside of the 2008 Big Country 3250TS RV at the annual RV, Camping and Travel Show on March 29, 2008, at the Indoor Sports Center in Loves Park.The two have been to South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Tennessee and elsewhere with their RV. It’s a fun way to visit relatives, see the country and make friends, they said.

“You meet people, sit back and talk, get acquainted, compare your RVs, and maybe drink a beer or two,” said Clark.

“Come mid-May,” added McKinney, “we’re taking off.”

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