In our first report from the show I wrote, “You get the feeling that the heart of the truck camper industry and community is right here, right now, in Ogallala, Nebraska.”
Above: A well armed attendee talks to Jay Taylor of Torklift International and Angela White of Truck Camper Magazine
As we walked around on Saturday, we saw Crystal Sieler of S&S Campers riding around on her green polka dot bicycle, Torklift’s team walking around heavily armed with SuperSoaker water guns, Terry Mitchell of Okanagan RV leaning on a tree to get cell phone reception, Mark Jutson under yet another rig installing SuperSprings, and five year old Harper Ward of Hallmark RV fishing on Lake Ogallala.
Above: Harper Ward of Hallmark fishing in Lake Ogallala. Harper now has his driving learner’s permit in Colorado. Look out!
Each night there was an industry feast or a rally-wide barbecue. On Friday and Saturday night the Jim Hyatt Band (seen above) played 50s, 60s, and 70s music. As the sun went down, the campfires fired up and the conversations went deep into the night.
Above: Paul Beddows of NATCOA, Tomas his dog, and Jay Taylor of Torklift International
On Saturday evening Dan Quinn of NATCOA awarded Torklift International for their involvement and impact on NATCOA and the overall truck camper industry. Then NATCOA held a raffle and awarded several sets of Torklift International Fastguns and an HDTV.
Above: Rex Willett, President of Northstar Campers, addresses the crowd
With temperatures in the 90s, we left the show on Sunday afternoon and drove to Greeley RV Park in Greeley, Colorado campground to plug-in and ride out the hot weather. From there we started our first factory tour at Hallmark RV. That trip would last 175 days, cross 22 states and one Canadian province, and reach 22 truck camper manufacturers, 35 truck camper dealers, and 6 gear companies.
Looking back, there was a palpable sense of excitement about the truck camper industry and where it was going. The economy was seemingly invincible and I remember several industry leaders stating their enthusiasm for the following year.
What none of us could have known is that the Great Recession was well on its way. Seven of the truck camper manufacturers in attendance either closed permanently or temporarily during that dark time. We have since gained new truck camper manufacturers including CampLite, Cirrus, Capri, and Rugged Mountain RV as the proverbial fire gives way to new growth.
Will we ever see another National Truck Camper Show? Not likely. The truck camper industry has moved away from RV shows in general favoring the efficiency of the internet. Only the most proven and cost effective RV shows remain as annual must-attends.
So, like many things in life, Ogallala will remain a cherished moment in time for those who were fortunate to attend. Thank you, Rex Willett, of Northstar Campers, and the team at NATCOA for putting on such a fantastic event. It was one for the books.