Knoxville RV Super Show: something for everyone … almost

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2015 Airstream Sport travel trailer / photo by Brad Armstrong

By Brad Armstrong

This year’s annual RV Super Show was held over the weekend in the Sevierville Convention Center. According to the show’s management, it has continued to grow every year from what was once a small, regional event to one that draws guests from surrounding states. This is something they rightfully take great pride in. What makes RVing so fun and colorful is there are so people that love them. The RV community is like a large family.

The show itself was a big success and offered plenty of information and access to not only many brands and types of RVs, but RV-related information as well, such as accessories, destination parks and resorts.

Upon entering the show it immediately became clear that what was new this year was actually old. Rather, they looked old on the exterior, but had new, modern amenities on the inside. Just like many cars over the last decade, “retro” has hit the RV scene.

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2015 Winnebago Brave in a 1960s “retro” style / photo by Brad Armstrong

Shasta has made a beautiful adaptation of their 1961 model trailer and are building 1,941 of them to commemorate the opening of the business in 1941. They are two-tone white and come in a choice of red, yellow or teal—and, of course, lots of polished aluminum. I could see them in my mind’s eye being pulled by a 1957 Chevy Nomad station wagon.

Winnebago had a Class A Brave whose exterior styling harkened back to the 60s. Also joining the retro bandwagon was a trailer simply called the “Retro,” manufactured by White Water. All of these rigs looked like a lot of fun to drive and camp in and, of course, they join the more traditional retro-styled RVs, such as teardrop trailers and the always popular Airstreams that, while being very modern, seem to look like they drove straight out of the 1950s.

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2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie in pink for breast cancer awareness / photo by Brad Armstrong

Winnebago built pink trailers to bring awareness to Breast Cancer and was letting people sign up to win one. This was a very popular place to be. Unfortunately, however, during the time I was there on Sunday the software on the little kiosks wasn’t working properly and many tried in vain to enter. Furthermore, there was no one around from Winnebago to inform them about the problem. It was a wonderful, thoughtful idea that sadly didn’t come together as well as I (and, I am sure Winnebago) would had hoped (again, at least during the time I was there).

One was overwhelmed by all the “classes.” Class As are the big “bus” types and popular with many full timers and retirees. Class Bs are vans specifically outfitted for camping use (think of the the old VW CamperVan all grown up). Dodge and Mercedes vans seem to be the current choice for many of these, as they get better gas milage than the bigger rigs. Class Cs are popular with growing families as they tend to be cheaper than Class As and offer plenty of sleeping accommodations. Travel trailers and fifth wheels are towables and offer versions that appeal to both first time RV owners and experienced full timers with ample luxury. Toy Haulers from class As, Cs to towables were there to give motorcycles and other toys a garage while enjoying a vacation.

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Class B motorhome on a Dodge Ram van / photo by Brad Armstrong

One could buy virtually everything RV-related at the show: camping chairs, lots in RV resorts, Class A buses, generators, fifth wheel campers, toy haulers. The show had something for everyone … almost. In light of the large selection of RVs, there were three types that were, in my opinion, glaringly missing.

I saw no truck campers, that old standby class of RVs that slide in the back of a pickup and can go almost anywhere (if the truck is four-wheel drive, of course). Also missing were the popup campers; the type of trailers that many families cut their RV teeth in, a step up from tent camping. Lastly, I couldn’t find any destination or park model trailers. These are very popular with people who live in RV parks, resorts and the like. This surprised me given the number of resorts in the area.

While the show had a wide representation of RVs, I would have liked to seen just a few more.

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