The 11th annual “The Rally,” sponsored by Affinity Group Inc., parent company of Trailer Life magazine, opened this morning with thousands of eager rallygoers bursting into the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.
“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
The Rally has attracted the owners of more than 2,500 RVs from all parts
of North America to enjoy the 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.
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. “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,” added
Thompson. “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.