The Smothers Brothers are coming to Arizona’s Valle del Oro RV Resort, and resident Mary Ann Tuttle is willing to pay the price for front row tickets.
“I’ve waited as long as four hours for good seats and some people get there earlier than me,” she said. “We’re blessed to have first-class entertainment come to our park.”
At 74, Tuttle is among a graying generation that created and is sustaining a relatively new star-studded adventure in the rambling evolution of RV parks and playgrounds.
The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, reported that 2008 will offer an explosion of big-name entertainers scheduled to take the stage January through March at more than a half-dozen RV resorts in the area.
“We’ve got Ricky Skaggs and Tanya Tucker coming and we’ve had names like Frankie Avalon and Brenda Lee,” said Jacque Lamoree, Valley del Oro’s activity director who played a pivotal role in launching the talent sea change for Arizona’s RV industry. “Our people just go crazy. And our audiences are just like teenagers again.”
About three years ago, Lamoree, a former talent agent, started booking entertainment for the Mesa resort and started raising the performance bar to star level.
Her first season of sellouts for concerts by nationally recognized talent earned her a position to secure entertainment for seven Arizona RV resorts owned by Cal-Am Properties Inc., one of the nation’s largest owner/operators of manufactured housing communities, RV resorts and apartment management companies.
“I’ve already booked for 2009 and I’m looking at 2010,” Lamoree said. “I’d like to tell you who’s coming next year but I can’t yet.”
The success came quickly even as Lamoree, as did other talent procurers, tried to imagine that RV campus ballrooms would attract big-name performers to turn on the American Bandstand generation.
“The very first year it was difficult sometimes just to say they would be performing in an RV park,” Lamoree said. “But when they came in, the audiences were terrific and it was warm and exciting for the entertainers. I remember when Frankie Avalon was here and some of the women were in tears.”
Former Broadway showman Joe McGrath said he is convinced that the RV venues have become a permanent “major players” for entertainment’s big names.
“When you take a place like ViewPoint in east Mesa, which is 300-plus acres, has 27 holes of golf, tennis courts and swimming pools, it definitely and legitimately falls under the category of a destination resort,” said McGrath, the playground’s entertainment director.
McGrath, like Lamoree, works with national agencies that represent scores of performers and assist RV entertainment directors to package a winter season of shows.
The tab, he said, becomes economically viable by creating a circuit for performances among several RV resorts, each of them seeking a dozen or so bookings and giving them multiple dates in a week.
And with resort ballrooms seating more than 1,000 customers, entertainment budgets are no small potatoes, said Keri Evans, assistant activity director at Mesa Regal RV Resort.