COVID Raises Interest in New RVs and Boats as Ohio Show Returns for 42nd Year After Pandemic Pause

Customers flock to the Celeste Center at the Ohio Expo around noon on Saturday for the 42nd Ohio RV & Boat Show.

Columbus was cold and crisp Saturday morning, and salt left from snow clearing stained the pavement under constant foot traffic heading towards the Ohio Expo Center.

But inside the Celeste Center and the Bricker Building, visitors dreamed of warmer temperatures and long days spent outdoors as they admired gleaming new boats and pontoons and peeked into new ones. sprawling campers and RVs at the Ohio RV and Boat Show.

This weekend marks the return of the annual show, which took a hiatus in 2021 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This is the 42nd year of the show, which is sponsored by the Central Ohio Marine Dealers Association and the Central Ohio Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association.

“It just went on and on,” said show director Tim Luckhaupt on Saturday morning. Friday, the opening day of the show, attendance was 18% compared to the opening Friday from 2020, he said. “We are very optimistic about this show.

Camping and outdoor recreation have flourished throughout the pandemic, as people seek ways to escape and get outside, show organizers, dealers and visitors said. The show offers visitors a giant display of camping trailers, travel trailers, motor homes, motorhomes, fifth wheel trailers, mini trailers, toy trucks, bass boats, cruisers, pontoon boats, personal watercraft and fishing boats, the while pre-season selling prices.

Shawn Coon of RCD RV is helping potential buyers view different floor plans on Saturday at the 42nd Ohio RV & Boat Show at the Ohio Expo Celeste Center.

Shawn Coon of RCD RV is helping potential buyers view different floor plans on Saturday at the 42nd Ohio RV & Boat Show at the Ohio Expo Celeste Center.

“People want to keep their germs to themselves,” said Michael “Griff” Griffith, product specialist at Specialty RV Sales, which has facilities in Canal Winchester and Lancaster. “They don’t want to be in a hotel, so they just take their own accommodation with them.”

“People still have a desire to do things and decided that since they couldn’t travel long distances, they would consider staying in the area, seeing RVs as a way out, to get into parks throughout Ohio, ”Luckhaupt said.

There are also “people who decided that being on the water would be a great way to spend time together and make sure they could get out and enjoy the spring, summer and fall. “, did he declare.

Attendees at the 42nd Ohio RV & Saturday Boat Show walk through a harsh light near the Buckeye Lake Marina exhibit.

Participants at the 42nd Ohio RV & Boat Show Saturday walk in a harsh light near the Buckeye Lake Marina exhibit.

The Streeter and West families are longtime campers and found themselves especially grateful for their RVs and their beloved Tree Haven Campground in Westerville when the pandemic struck.

“We loved it,” said Sharon Streeter, 71, of the Hilltop. “I went to the grocery store and to the campsite. That’s all I did.

“Especially when COVID first started, it was another set of walls to be in,” said Darlene West, 64, of Westerville.

The two women and their husbands were at the RV and Boat Show on Saturday just to look around and see what’s new, but they already knew that more people were interested in camping and the RV market, motor homes and boats.

“We know they’re more interested because where our campground is, they’ve been packed for two years,” said Doug Streeter, 70.

Growing demand and supply issues related to COVID have driven up costs and reduced inventories at some boat and RV dealers.

“We were down to very few campers there for a while; it got a little scary, ”said Griffith of Specialty RV Sales. “We were only 25 campers left on the ground.

Jeff Layne of Bellville, near Marion, Ohio, checks the interior of a Sutphen SS closed bow boat from Alexander's Landing, Millersport, Buckeye Lake during the 42nd Annual Ohio RV &;  Boat show on Saturday.

Jeff Layne of Bellville, near Marion, Ohio, checks the interior of a Sutphen SS closed bow boat from Alexander’s Landing, Millersport, in Buckeye Lake during the 42nd Annual Ohio RV & Boat Show Saturday.

Typically, they would have more than 300.

In previous years, the RV and Boat Show filled three state fairground buildings. This year, after organizers learned that two recreational vehicle dealers would have no inventory to show, the show was held only in the Celeste Center building and the Bricker building, Luckhaupt said.

Still, the 2022 show features nearly 250,000 square feet of inventory.

Even without the RV and Boat Show last January, Alexander’s Landing in Millersport at Buckeye Lake was selling boats as quickly as they got them at the marina.

“The costs have gone up, but I don’t think that’s too much of a factor for most people,” said Grace Harwood, co-owner of Alexander’s Landing. “I think they’re willing to spend the money, it’s just that people realize that they can’t get it as quickly as they want.”

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If you want to go

The Ohio RV and Boat Show runs until January 16, but is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Tickets are $ 14 for adults, $ 3 for children 6 to 13, and free for children 5 and under. Partial proceeds benefit the Ohio Wildlife Center. Discount coupons are available at Banque Nationale du Parc or at ohiorvandboatshow.com.

The show also has special reduced prices on Wednesdays and Thursdays for adults who bring in a canned product to donate to a local food bank. On Thursday, the show will offer free entry to first responders and military personnel with ID.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio RV Boat Show Returns to Growing Demand After Pandemic Closures


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