Led by Forest River and Thor Industries, manufacturers announced they would cancel Elkhart Extravagana events. The news led to the RV Supplier Show postponement.
Forest River and Thor said Wednesday afternoon that their top priority is the health and safety of valued industry partners, team members and the larger Elkhart community.
“With local and national Covid cases rapidly increasing,” the companies said, “safety mandates would be required to help mitigate risks, distracting from the positive experience industry partners expect.”
The cancelation also will postpone the RV Supplier Show for the second consecutive year, the RV/MH Hall of Fame announced.
“Recently, we have learned that the Elkhart dealer open house will be cancelled due to the two largest manufacturers pulling out for covid related reasons. Therefore, due to countless logistical reasons, the RV Hall of Fame supplier show will also be postponed until 2022,” the Hall of Fame stated. “All our exhibitors will have their booth purchases rolled over unless otherwise noted. We apologize dearly for this inconvenience and hope that we can all be patient for 2022.”
Winnebago said its primary focus continued to be the health and safety of team members, dealers and the communities served.
“Given recent developments, Winnebago Industries will not be hosting traditional Deal Open House activities in Elkhart, Indiana, in September,” the company said. “We firmly believe this decision, made in consultation with our Winnebago, Grand Design RV and Newmar brand businesses, is the appropriate course of action at this time.”
On Thursday, Rev Recreation Group announced it would cancel plans.
“Out of an abundance of caution, REV Recreation Group will not be at the Elkhart RV Dealer Show this year,” company President Mike Lanciotti said. “While we are disappointed to not meet our partners and colleagues at the show, we are working with them to ensure that they are able to safely see and experience our new models for 2022.”
Last year, Elkhart Extravaganza plans were canceled in mid-July because of the pandemic. This year, plans were on track through August before Covid cases spiked in late summer in Indiana and elsewhere in the country.
The timing of the announcement will present challenges to the area’s hospitality and travel sectors, Elkhart Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Levon Johnson said. The chamber does not have a detailed economic impact study to determine the direct financial impact of Elkhart Extravaganza week. However, Johnson said it rivals a Notre Dame football weekend in its economic impact.
“The event has become the largest event in terms of its impact on hotels, catering, restaurants and travel,” Johnson said. “To have everyone converge around Elkhart, it is all about business but it really is a celebration of business in this area.”
Johnson cited the annual jazz festival in June and the Elkhart Grand Prix go-kart race as other area events with similar visitor draws to Elkhart Extravaganza. Despite the disappointment from the event’s cancellation, Johnson praised the decision.
“We really want to commend the leadership who put the health of their dealers and the entire community ahead of everything else,” he said.
Johnson said the county and city planned to work on commissioning economic impact studies for annual area events such as Elkhart Extravaganza.
Forest River CEO Pete Liegl said after a review of all the factors, the company believe the safest and most responsible course of action was to cancel the event.
“The community and dealers always welcome this event,” he said, “but with Covid rates increasing across the country, we do not want to put our dealers, employees or the community at any additional risk.”
Forest River and Thor said canceling the events was the right thing to protect stakeholders’ health while also helping alleviate disruption to production.
“With a heavy heart, we’re canceling this year’s dealer event,” Thor President and CEO Bob Martin said. “Our companies remain steadfast on delivering exceptional RVs to our dealer partners. While we are eager to share the exciting innovation we’ve been developing across our brands, we are committed to protecting the health and safety of our trusted partners, team members, and community.”
Forest River and Thor said they will continue to be focused on delivering quality products to their respective dealer partners.
Winnebago stated: “Each of our RV companies will continue to work closely with our dealers to ensure they have access to the latest products, updates and information, as well as sales and service support.”