Tens of thousands of RV enthusiasts are converging on Quartzsite, Arizona, to attend the 35th annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. The January 20 through 28 event, which typically attracts more than 150,000 RVers, is one of the largest RV shows in the country.
“It was unbelievably busy here on Saturday,” said Jo Ann Michelson, executive director of the Arizona Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, who was distributing free camping guides. “It was shoulder-to-shoulder people,” she added. “We could barely keep the racks stocked.”
The show features RV dealers and aftermarket suppliers, as well as representatives from major campground chains and independent campgrounds. “It’s been so busy. It’s been a great show!” said Porshe De La Cerda, a brand ambassador for the 450-site Silver View RV Resort in Bullhead City, Arizona.
Jerry and Laura Couture, full-time RVers from Surprise, Arizona, were keeping busy staffing a booth for Frankfurt, Germany-based European Motorhome Tours, which organizes four month-long caravan-style RV trips across different areas of Europe. The Coutures themselves have taken two RV-caravan trips across Europe and share their experiences with RV enthusiasts who stop by to check out the company’s upcoming travel itineraries.
But while RVs are certainly one focus of the show, and complement several RV dealerships in Quartzsite, the event itself is more like a flea market, offering everything from tropical shirts, jewelry and gemstones to houseware items such as kitchen cutlery, bedding and whirlpool baths.
Much of the show takes place inside a massive white tent, with vendors displaying their products in booths to thousands of RVing snowbirds as well as RV owners who live within a day’s drive of the event. Some came to the show pushing poodles, chihuahuas and other pets in strollers, while others meandered through the crowd on motorized mobility scooters, like you see in supermarkets. Outside the great white tent, numerous RVs are on display, as well as lots of food vendors selling everything from gyros to frog legs and deep-fried ice cream.
“It’s kind of overwhelming,” said Donna Humphries of Santa Cruz, California, who owns a 37-foot Newmar motorhome. She and her husband drove down from Santa Cruz just to attend the show and spotted several items they planned to purchase, including a pillow-top mattress pad and a flagpole.
“It’s more like a flea market,” said Teresa Mahan of Ohio. “There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t have to do with camping.”
Indeed, the show features numerous products designed to ease aches and pains and other ailments that come with the advancing age of many RV snowbirds. “We’re getting lots of interest,” said Scott Turner, who is selling a natural anti-inflammatory dietary supplement called Bend Again.
Several vendors are selling different types of massage equipment. “This is our ninth year here,” said Lora Bennett, a sales representative for Seattle-based Magic Massage. “We have regular repeat customers who come back every year instead of ordering products online.”