Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Sweetest Place on Earth–Hershey RV Show!


Hershey, PA is not only home to America’s largest chocolate maker (thus, the town calls itself the “Sweetest Place on Earth”), but it’s also home to America’s Largest RV Show.  I had watched the annual special on HGTV called, RV 2011, RV 2010, etc. for a few years and always wanted to come see the show “live” in September (rather than have to wait until January for the TV show to air!), so with my trip out East already planned for Fall, I decided to make Hershey a stop!

This is indeed a massively large RV show!  It runs 5 days, takes up a large stadium and much of the parking lot around it, and has many smaller RV manufacturers in attendance who don’t normally go to the other RV shows around the country.  So, it was a great show to see some new and different things!

I had hoped to come a week early to attend the RV-Dreams Rally, but my work schedule was not going to be able to swing the time off. I still decided to stay at the park where the rally had been held, Thousand Trails Hershey Preserve.  I wanted to try and meet Howard & Linda, but my timing was a bit late as I watched them roll past my rig this morning on their way to their next destination.

But, I did get a great opportunity to meet another travel blogger today, Suzanne (who also reads my blog).  We met up at the show to peruse Winnebago’s many RVs on display.  Suzanne is hoping to full-time soon and is shopping for her 1st RV.  What a dizzying array of choices at the show for her to consider!

I have no idea what models the upcoming HGTV RV 2012 show will feature, but here are the ones that I found most interesting:

Small Travel Trailers:

The manufacturer who recently purchased and revived my beloved T@B brand, Little Guy, did not attend the show.  Little Guy is currently only making one of the T@B floorplans, leaving those wishing for the old T@B clamshell model out of luck.  But never fear, the new-aged retro trailer brand, R-Pod, now has a clamshell available…and it even has a slide-out as well as a full bath on the inside!  Pretty nifty:

Travel Trailers:
I’ve not seen Airstream attend an RV Show in over 5 years (apparently, they don’t think they need to), but there’s a new competitor aimed to give them a run for their money, Element RV.  Priced similar to Airstream (i.e. “expensive”), the Element uses modern materials and technology throughout it’s 24-26 foot designs.  No wood is used in the trailer at all, and the interiors are as “Euro” as I’ve ever seen for an American-made RV.

There were plenty of boring white box 5th-Wheels on display with boring conservative interiors,  but a few started to break the mold.  Among these, this Elite Suites model featured windows that were not only flush-mounted, but “skinned” in the same paint scheme to become nearly invisible!

The interior of the Elite Suites was fairly conservative except for the neon blue accent lighting!

But, without a doubt, the most innovative 5th wheels on display were those from Open Range.  Here’s their 39’ model that has usual TV and fireplace, but also has a patio door leading to a large fold-out balcony!

The bathroom is innovative as well—a glass vessel sink!
And in the kitchen, a center island with a twist—it’s on wheels, and easily moves to where ever you want it!

Open Range did a very neat thing on one of their shorter 5th Wheel models.  They put folding countertop panels on the rolling island and made it double as the dinette!  Ingenious!

Class B and B+ Motorhomes:
The usual camper van manufacturers were there, such as Roadtek and Pleasure Way, but a few “B+” manufacturers were there as well, namely, Coachhouse Platinum and Born Free.  The Coach House 261XL CL on display was very intriguing for a “work from the road” RV’er—one of the benches of the dinette had been replaced with a free-standing dinette chair (which could easily be removed and replaced with an office chair if desired. Finally! Someone “gets” it!  Only problem was this coach was $135,000!
Born Free had some nice units too—exceptionally sturdy construction, but rather limited in interior décor options.

Class C Motorhomes
Of course, my vote here goes to the Winnebago View! It still was the highest-quality construction of any Class C’s I saw.  But for most outrageously innovative Class C?  That winner would be this Super C model with it’s own garage for your Nascar racer, and a balcony on the roof to watch the race from!  Insane!

Class A Motorhomes:
Tiffin and Winnebago had some very nice, high-quality Class A’s on display (I liked the interior décor of the Winnebago better, though).  If I were wanting a giant motorhome to replace my house, the Winnebago Journey 40U would certainly be on my short list!

But for pure design innovation, the Monaco Vesta was quite different looking on the outside.  Unfortunately, the interior was not as efficient or innovative.

Park Models:
The largest units of wheels look more like mini-mobile homes and are meant to be semi-permanently parked at an RV resort.  I really liked this unit by Fork Creek.  At $79,000, it wasn’t much more than a 5th Wheel, but had vaulted ceilings, a full sized kitchen, a computer desk nook, and a neat mirror in the bedroom that allowed the TV behind it to project through the glass!

After a long day at the show, my feet were sore and it was a long walk back to the parking lot.  Where, oh where, did I park my car?

I really love having my little yellow Tracker!!!


  1. Lynne,

    Thanks for the look at the newest RVs. I'm still about four years away from retiring and buying an RV, but I really value comments from folks who are already on the road.

    Your photos are great. I know when I open your blog the images will be great instead of faded out snapshots!

    About your motorhome: could you list your favorite features for the View or any other comments about it? I've noticed quite a few single women buying Views and wondered if it's the size, gas mileage, features? I'll be single when I travel, as well (except for a dog or two).

  2. I was just thinking about doing a post like that! Suzanne said some of the things I had mentioned to her at the show yesterday were things she never had thought to consider, and I remember my own decision-making process and some of the things I thought important back then have turned out not to be. So, let me try to work up a post!

  3. Interesting post, and great photos! Looks like a reeeaaaaly long day. I've gone to RV shows, and I'm always pooped after a couple of hours. Thanks for all the information. :)


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