June 20, 2018
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Bangor camping, RV show canceled for 2nd year in a row

HAPPY CAMPERS People look at campers and RVs at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday during the annual camper and RV show. (BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BYT GABOR DEGRE)
By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — For the second year in a row, the Bangor Camping and RV Show has been canceled for lack of vendors.

The 2011 edition of the show, organized as an in-house event by Bass Park and Civic Center staff since 1986, was scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 22-23, according to the Bass Park website.

Bass Park Director Mike Dyer said Wednesday that in order to make the event work financially and be worthwhile for attendees, at least three large vendors are needed. The show also typically features 20 smaller vendors, most of them area campgrounds.

Dyer said that the city had three large vendors lined up until about a week and a half ago, when one of them pulled out for financial reasons.

According to Dyer, the poor economy, staff reductions in the recreational vehicle industry and shrinking co-op advertising dollars have made it difficult for vendors to participate in shows like the one just canceled in Bangor. He also said it has been getting tougher for dealers to get their new models in hand in time for the Janu-ary show.

“It’s disappointing for everybody, but I think it’s a sign of the times,” Dyer said. “Shows are suffering all over the country. The RV business has shown a slight uptick, but it’s still pretty tenuous.”

Consumer spending habits also have shifted, Dyer said.

“A staple of the shows used to be the current owners who were looking to upgrade,” he said. “Now people are happy with what they’ve got and tend to hang on to their RVs longer.”

In an effort to keep the show going two years ago, shortly after gasoline prices spiked, organizers offered a half-off discount for display space, for which the city’s standard rate is $225 for each 8-by-10-foot space, Dyer said. He said that vendors typically require at least 10 such spaces, at a cost of $2,250.

In good years, the city makes about $7,500 from the RV show, Dyer said. In 2009, the most recent year the event was held, the city barely cleared $1,500, he said.

Though the discount was offered again for this year’s show, only two vendors signed up. As a result, he said, the city decided to cancel the show.

“We decided it was better not to do the show. We can recover from that. But a show that’s not worth the price of admission, a crummy show, that’s a lot harder to recover from,” he said.

The city’s other in-house production, the Bangor Boating and Marine Show, held each March, continues to enjoy some success, however.

“Boats are a different animal,” Dyer said. “More people can get into a $10,000 boat than a $100,000 RV.”

Dyer said that while the RV show’s long-term prognosis is unclear, the city hopes it will resume in the future.

“There’s always hope, but the shows may be getting more difficult to put on from everyone’s perspective, and I totally understand,” Dyer said.

“On some level, absence makes the heart grow fonder,” he said. “We’re shooting for next year.”

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