Detroit Camper & RV Show to celebrate 50th anniversary show in February

Author's note: The following is an excerpt of an article I wrote for the two trade magazines I work for, RVBusiness and Woodall's Campground Management.

Plans are well underway to commemorate next year’s 50th anniversary of the Detroit Camper & RV Show. Around 50 members of the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) received the news Wednesday (Dec. 9) at the group’s 4th annual Campground Meeting.

The show milestone coincides with next year’s 75th anniversary for the association, which will be celebrated in the fall on Mackinac Island.

In addition, the meeting featured several other speakers on a variety of topics as well as a sneak peak at the organization’s new directory, website and marketing efforts by VP Demand Creation, MARVAC’s new marketing agency based in Traverse City, Mich.

To celebrate the 50th Annual Detroit Camper & RV Show, MARVAC officials are planning a gala reception from 6-9 p.m. on Feb. 9 — the night before the show opens to the public — at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich.

MARVAC Executive Director Tim DeWitt noted that the Detroit Camper & RV Show was the third longest running consumer show in the country, adding that the reception is a great opportunity for the industry to celebrate a milestone anniversary.

“We’re trying to get people to come who were there 50 years ago. We’d love to have them cut the ribbon during the reception so everyone can enjoy the RVs on display and just have a fun time,” DeWitt said, adding that MARVAC members and others are contributing all sorts of memorabilia, including a 1935 Hayes Covered Wagon travel trailer built in Mount Clemens, Mich., to add to the ambience.

“It’s 50 years — how many chances do you get to celebrate something like that?” DeWitt said, adding that besides himself and MARVAC Director Bill Sheffer, past show directors such as Bill Garpow, Lyn Wellhausen and Ed Klim will also be on hand.

Tickets to the reception cost $50 and proceeds will benefit the HARVEST Education Foundation Scholarship, a 501(c)(3) program. Sponsorship opportunities also exist, according to DeWitt, and he encouraged anyone with favorite photos, old advertisements or recollections from past Detroit Camper and RV Shows to contact Gretchen Monette at All Seasons Communications at 586-752-6381, or for details on how to share those memories.

In their presentation, representatives of VP Demand Creation Services said the new directory, website and social media marketing efforts are meant to be a cohesive unit in both appearance and outreach, designed to drive campers to member campgrounds and RV buyers to member dealers.

“We’re real happy with the new directory, and we’re excited for the new website to come out, which will be in mid January,” Devin Bond of VP Demand Creation told the audience, adding that campground owners can begin customizing their page on the new website immediately.

The directory will be distributed at MARVAC’s five consumer RV shows as well as at Michigan welcome centers, located at key highway entry points into the state. In addition, 25,000 copies will be mailed to qualified households in northern Indiana and Ohio.