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RVIA Hosts "Great American RV Experience" on Capitol Hill

RVIA recently hosted the “Great American RV Experience” event on Capitol Hill with special guests from the House RV Caucus to inform and educate Members of Congress and their staff about the RV industry.

The daytime portion of the July 23 event offered Members and staff the opportunity to tour a Winnebago motorhome and an Airstream travel trailer displayed at the U.S. Botanic Garden on Capitol Hill.   The evening reception, which took place in the Cannon House Office Building, was attended by 200 guests, including Members of Congress, their staff, and representatives of allied organizations.

The reception featured four campfire-like settings with different themes around the reception room which guests visited while enjoying a picnic atmosphere. Each campfire was hosted by industry leaders from segments of the great American RV experience:

  • Manufacturing – Doug Gaeddert, RVIA chairman and general manager, Forest River RV, Inc., and Derald Bontrager, RVIA first vice chairman and president and CEO, Jayco, Inc.
  • Dealerships – Phil Ingrassia, president, Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association, and Lance Wilson, Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) president.
  • Campgrounds – Deb Carter, owner, Buttonwood Beach RV Resort, Earleville, MD, and Jeff Simms, director of state relations and program advocacy, National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC).
  • The Great Outdoors – Derrick Crandall, president, American Recreation Coalition, and Christy Goldfuss, Deputy Director, National Park Service.

Smokey Bear also made an appearance courtesy of the US Forest Service at the reception to the delight of the guests. Smokey gave “Smokey Bear hugs” and posed with guests for pictures. This year is the 70th anniversary of Smokey Bear carrying his message of wildfire prevention and fire safety to those who visit and camp in the nation’s forests.

As guests departed, they received an original Rolla Roaster campfire fork courtesy of Kampgrounds of America (KOA) packaged with a s’more kit. The Rolla Roasters were engraved with the phrase “RV Caucus 2014 – Go RVing S’more.”

“We were thrilled with the strong turnout and the high level of interest shown by the Members of Congress and staff,” said Dianne Farrell, RVIA vice president of government affairs. “But, even more encouraging were the great conversations that were taking place around the campfires. We wanted to make this a fun event that was a departure from the normal cocktails and podium speeches. I think we accomplished that with the campfire hosts fostering a more personal dialogue with our guests.”

“This was a truly impressive event that will raise the profile of the House RV Caucus and help it grow,” said Gaeddert. “With this ‘Great American RV Experience’ event and RVIA’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day held this past June, RVIA is doing a tremendous job of generating exposure for the RV industry at the federal level. We look forward to continuing our work with the House RV Caucus throughout the coming years.”

The RV Caucus was created by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL 15), who has a life-long passion for the RV lifestyle, and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN 2), whose district encompasses much of the RV manufacturing in Indiana.  The Caucus was organized to help educate members of Congress on the value of the RV lifestyle, highlight the economic benefit the RV market provides across the country, and find common ground on matters of concern to the RV industry.   


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