Camping and Outdoor Show debuts at Barre Aud
BARRE — The parking lot behind the Barre Municipal Auditorium was looking a lot like an RV park Thursday afternoon, and that isn’t apt to change until early Sunday evening.
The Vermont Campground Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a first-ever trade show — a three-day event where you’ll be able to map out your summer vacation or comparison shop for something as elaborate as one of those homes-away-from-home-on-wheels parked behind the auditorium.
The Vermont Camping and Outdoor Show will open at 1 p.m. today, and organizers say there’s much more to see than what’s in the parking lot.
The show will feature exhibits and representatives from more than two dozen campgrounds, more than 10 recreational vehicle and truck dealerships, five New England camping associations, and more than 20 other companies and organizations that cater to folks who enjoy spending time outdoors.
The show is a camper’s dream, according to the Vermont Campground Association executive director, Peter Daniels, who is bullish about the future of the outdoor tourism industry in Vermont and surrounding states — an industry that has shown healthy growth in a somewhat sluggish economy.
Daniels expects that trend to continue as “baby boomers retire and remember camping as one of the most economical and enjoyable ways to be together with family members.”
Folks who want to check out the latest in camping equipment, kayaks and the like, or explore camping options around Vermont and New England, should have an easy time of it at a show that Daniels sees establishing a spring tradition.
“We plan for this yearly event to grow along with the industry,” he said.
It’s off to a decent start.
The rear parking lot at Barre’s Civic Center complex is full, as are both floors of the auditorium and the ice-less BOR arena.
The show will be open from 1 to 8 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. There will be family-friendly entertainment from Cheryl the Clown and food for sale, with proceeds benefiting the Topsham-Corinth Little League. Patrons may win door prizes — including free camping — and enjoy a display on the history of camping in Vermont to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the VCA, founded in 1964.
As an added attraction Sunday, four cars that race regularly at Thunder Road International Speedbowl will be on hand for the final day of the show.
Admission is $8 for adults with a $2 discount for anyone who brings two nonperishable food items for donation to the Vermont Foodbank. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free but must be accompanied by an adult.
The association’s members are Vermont private and public campgrounds and affiliates. The group provides administrative and marketing service for its members through publication and distribution of the Vermont Campground Guide, its website (campvermont.com) and, starting today, the Camping and Outdoor Show. It also provides legislative support.
More information about the show — including a list of exhibitors — can be found online at www.vermontcampingoutdoorshow.com.
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