BILLINGS - The Billings RV & Boat show is just getting started at the MetraPark Expo Center and organizers say the last couple have been great.
With COVID, a lot of families wanted to get out, and organizers are expecting bigger things this year.
"We've got a lot of families in from out of town, but it seems like a different vibe than it has been the last two years a little bit, in a good way," said Dustin Bretz, operations director for Bretz RV & Marine in Lockwood. "I don't want to say that COVID is over, but it feels like people are just done. They're ready to get out with their families and go enjoy boats, go enjoy camping. People are feeling like they're ready to go play."
Bretz said the last two years during COVID motivated people to spend time outdoors, and it's continuing this year.
Nationwide RV sales hit a record in 2021, surpassing the previous high in 2017, according to the RV Industry Association.
And according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, boat sales are also up.
"There's an incredible amount of people that are buying RVs and boats this year and last year," Bretz said. "There's a huge migration of people that are looking to get into this lifestyle. I think this is going to be the biggest year yet."
And he says RV and boat businesses have been challenged by supply issues, the same as other industries, along with increased demand.
"Everything's in short supply," he said. "So what's here that you can buy here, if we have to reorder off of it, it's going to cost more because the manufacturers' price has to keep going up."
Bretz says families that may have stayed closer to home the last two years are ready for a longer adventure.
"If I can encompass what everybody tells me is that they're trying to go make memories with their family meaningful trips that they can take together," Bretz said. "This is my favorite part of the year. I get to get out of the office and actually get to do what I love to do, which is meet families out here and help figure out what works for them to go camping.
The five-day Billings RV and Boat Show runs through Sunday.