A state law that prohibits out-of-state dealers from selling recreational vehicles in Kansas means a national event will bypass the state, taking with it millions of dollars in potential revenue, organizers said.
The Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) notified Kansas State Fair Manager Denny Stoecklein Monday (Feb. 27) that it will not bring its event to the state fairgrounds in Hutchinson until the law is changed, The Associated Press reported.
When the event was held in Hutchinson in 2002, 4,716 motorcoaches camped at the fairgrounds, bringing an estimated $24.4 million economic boost to Reno County and another $7.2 million to the state, The Hutchinson News reported.
“You and the entire staff at the Kansas State Fair have been wonderful to work with and you have exerted great efforts to bring our event to Hutchinson,” FMCA’s Events Manager Chris Lusk wrote. “However, the current laws and business environment in the state of Kansas have made it prohibitive for us to return to the Kansas State Fair at this time.”
Stoecklein said FMCA’s 2012 convention will take place at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis and that the 2013 convention — the association’s 50th anniversary celebration that the fair had hoped to land — will be in Gillette, Wyo.
“We had a feeling this would be the direction they went,” Stoecklein said. “They indicated … they were concerned with the dealer restrictions, which has been a concern of theirs for a long time.”
FMCA official Jerry Yeatts wrote to the fair board in 2010 saying his association would like to come back to the fairgrounds for an April 2013 rally.
State lawmakers resisted the fair board’s efforts to get the law changed. Kansas is not unusual, Yeatts said, noting his organization considers only a few states friendly to motorhome sales.
A regional FMCA rally last fall in Hutchinson that drew more than 600 didn’t attract dealers or manufacturers because of the law, he said.
Bill Hawley, who owns Hawley Brothers Hawleywood RV Ranch in Dodge City, the oldest Winnebago dealer in the nation, said smaller dealers couldn’t afford to provide a large inventory. Manufacturers bring in dozens of units and the dealer has to buy what is left, Hawley said.
“It is not really a rally,” Hawley said. “It really is a big commercial sale.”
Reno County Fair Board Member Brad Rayl was disappointed with the decision but said he could see both sides of the argument.
“It was a good revenue item for us and the state fair,” he said. “It was a lot of outside income, gas, lodging, all the services … it was a big economic impact.”
If the law changes, Yeatts said FMCA will reconsider Kansas.