January 2016 – The focal point of the January RV migration to Quartzsite, Arizona, is the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. This is a wild event, attended by thousands, but the name is a little odd.
The show is geared primarily towards the lifestyle interests of the retired crowd and also has a fair bit to do with RVs. But it makes just passing references to vacations and has very little to do with sports at all!
It’s strange name aside, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show is a total hoot, and during the eight days it is open, thousands of folks from the North America’s senior set walk through the Big Tent in town and wander around the many booths scattered around the outside. If boredom sets in, there are loads of other flea markets and outdoor selling arenas in town that have trinkets, tools and household goodies for sale too.
The RV Show is a freestyle cross between a county fair and a flea market, and vendors set up shop all over the grounds to keep show goers well fed with funnel cakes and kettle corn and ice cream.
Inside, we found the Escapees RV Club booth right away and got chatting with Mark Nemeth, the magazine’s technical guru who shares his wisdom in every issue in his column, “Mark My Words.”
Nearby was the tourism board for Alaska, and we snagged a map and learned a little about how to tackle an RV roadtrip to the far north.
Last year, we were charmed by a brief chat we had with Amazon Camperforce representative Nancy, and we were thrilled to find she was at their booth again. She and her husband, David, have worked for Amazon as ambassadors for their unique RV workamping program for several years, and her warm smile and enthusiasm for the program were as infectious as ever.
Even better, they travel full-time in a Hitchhiker Champagne fifth wheel trailer, and although they were camped near town for an easy commute to the show every day, one evening they came out to the Plomosa Road campsite in the desert, where the Hitchhikers were gathered, and joined the group for a potluck dinner.
The RV Show is more of a Home Show and Lifestyle Show than it is specifically an RV show, and there were lots of gadgets for sale that are handy in the home whether it rolls down the road or sits on a permanent foundation.
The Sweepa Broom looked like it could be super handy for RVers. Lots of show goers were carrying these brooms, and that had been the case last year too. In fact, last year the booth was shut down by the time we got to it because they had sold out, so we were glad to be able to catch the demo this year. It was amazing how thoroughly it swept up pet hair!
The Sweepa Broom folks still had plenty of stock when we stopped by, but the Chilling the Most booth was plumb out of their product. I have no idea what they were selling, but it was obvsiouly very popular!
There’s no segmentation or grouping by product type in this show. All the vendors are jumbled together. So we got a laugh when we saw the Vitamix blender booth right next to the National Park Service booth. Well, that’s the RV life, I guess: make a smoothie and go see the Grand Canyon!
Food prep is a big deal at this show, and lots of vendors were giving demos of various kitchen gadgets. The Primo Peeler definitely put my old fashioned carrot peeler to shame. It slices, it dices…
A very popular booth offered a “detox for life” foot bath. Just soak your feet in a magic forumla in a bucket for a while, and you’ll detox your whole body. Meanwhile, the liquid in the bucket turns a frightening color.
Snake oil or life saving health product? Who knows — it’s Quartzsite!
At some booths, like the detox booth, we had to stretch our imaginations a little to figure out if they were aiming their product at the Sports people, the Vacation people or RV people in the show’s audience. The mini-flipper 4 wheel drive ATV toy and Urban Rail Car and Create A Track train sets really gave us pause for thought.
Suddenly, it hit me. Most of the folks attending the show were grandparents — and they had grandkids to buy for. What could be better for the little tyke than a toy train or ATV?! Funny thing was, when we got back out to our desert campsite, we saw a guy — a full grown guy — playing with a flipper ATV he’d picked up at the show. I guess we’re all kids at heart!
Of course, lots of people have grandkids at home, but they travel with their little pooch when they go RVing. Many of them brought their furry friends along to the show.
Even though the crowds were thick in the aisles of the show, lots of little dogs made their way from booth to booth in baby strollers.
There were RV seminar presentations too. As we passed one, the crowd was being introduced to RV slide-out carpet protectors. A neat tip we’ve found, though, is to use flexible cutting boards instead (pics here) and save a few bucks.
We caught up with the folks at Wholesale Warranties too. A year ago we were not so sure how useful an RV warranty could be, but this year we discovered just how important it is to have one for an older RV — our $1,904 four year policy covered $6,700 of repairs in just over a year — so it was great to put some faces with the names of the good folks at this company.
We were also fascinated to learn about their new RV repair facility rating and review website called RV Repair Direct. Since they have a vested interest in having warranty repairs done correctly the first time, they are putting together a database of RV repair facilities where people can rate and review the service providers they have used.
What an inventive idea this database is. Lord knows, figuring out which repair shops are good and which aren’t is really important and not easy at all! As I chatted with founder and CEO Jeff Shelton (on the right in the above photo), I was really impressed with his energy and his many creative ideas and his enthusiasm for the RV lifestyle.
RV insurance companies were at the show too, and Progressive Insurance had a long line out the door.
And outside we found lots of RVs for sale.
In one area there were a bunch of used Prevost motorhomes for sale. New ones go for about a mil and a half, so we jumped at the chance to peek inside some used ones and see what it would be like to live in a six year old $650k rolling home.
The Prevost tours were popular, but I think the ice cream vendors were the ones that were really raking it in. This year for the RV Show the weather was sunny and warm, and everyone seemed to be licking an ice cream cone!
Of course, as the afternoon wore on, the outdoor beer and burger venues began filling up too. In the morning when we had first passed the “Happiest Place in Quartzsite” on our way into the show, the seats were all empty. But by the time we left in the afternoon they were full!
At the end of the day we relaxed with our new Hitchhiker friends around the campfire.
What a fun way to spend a few days in the middle of winter!
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Other blog posts from our RV travels to Quartzsite over the years:
- What’s It Like to RV in Quartzsite AZ? Anything Goes! 02/02/16
- Quartzsite, Arizona – The RV Gathering Place 01/26/16
- The RV Show in Quartzsite AZ – More Than Just RVs! 02/07/15
- Sunset over RVs in Quartzsite AZ 01/24/15
- Quartzsite Arizona – RV Madness in the Desert! 01/21/15
- Fiery Sunsets and Interesting Folks in the Arizona Desert 01/15/09
- Quartzsite, AZ – Snowbird Roost 12/05/07
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