People check out RVs on display at a pre-pandemic Elkhart RV Dealer Open House. For the second straight year, surging COVID numbers have caused the event to be canceled. Staff file photo by Michael Caterina
People check out RVs on display at a pre-pandemic Elkhart RV Dealer Open House. For the second straight year, surging COVID numbers have caused the event to be canceled. Staff file photo by Michael Caterina
ELKHART — For the second year in a row, the pandemic has resulted in the cancelation of the what’s turned into Elkhart County’s biggest party.

Forest River, which came up with the idea of a Dealer Open House in Elkhart more than 10 years ago, and Thor Industries issued a joint press release this week announcing they were pulling out of the show. About the same time, Winnebago Industries said they also wouldn’t be participating in the event, which typically brings in top-name entertainment and thousands of RV dealers and manufacturers from across the country. 

“The companies’ top priority is the health and safety of valued industry partners, team members and the larger Elkhart community,” Forest River and Thor said in the joint release. “With local and national COVID cases rapidly increasing, safety mandates would be required to help mitigate risks, distracting from the positive experience industry partners expect.”

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The show was scheduled for the week beginning Sept. 26 and generally features lavish entertainment, food and other events on about 40 acres surrounding the RV/MH Hall of Fame complex just south of the Indiana Toll Road in Elkhart.  

Manufacturers and suppliers typically report billions of dollars in sales during the event, but the RV industry has been operating at full capacity since the pandemic began. Pandemic consumers have been looking for new recreational outlets such as camping.

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