MARVAC Detroit RV Show at the Detroit Auxillary Armory in 1984.

As one of the oldest state associations, the Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) has been connecting camping and RV enthusiasts with Michigan-based dealers, suppliers and campgrounds for 80 years.

“We weren’t there when Henry Ford and Thomas Edison took their glamping vacations in 1914 and introduced the idea of car camping, but we’ve been promoting the benefits of it ever since,” jokes Bill Sheffer, executive director of MARVAC. Sheffer is celebrating 25 years of being a part of the association.

“Michigan offers natural beauty that is unrivaled by any other state, and there’s no better way to experience Michigan’s natural wonders than through the joys of camping,” said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We congratulate MARVAC on 80 years of encouraging RV travel as a way to experience the beauty and diversity of Michigan’s destinations, and thank them for serving as a longstanding partner to Pure Michigan.”

Founded in 1941, the association has been championing camping and RVing to consumers through outreach and the always popular RV Shows. The association introduced RV and camping shows to the Metro Detroit area 55 years ago in 1966 with the original Detroit Camper and Travel Trailer Show, which has become the third-longest running public RV show in the country.

The first show was held at the Detroit Artillery Armory on 8 Mile Road in February 1966. The SE Michigan shows have also been held at Cobo Hall, the Pontiac Silverdome and was the inaugural show for the Novi Expo Center. It was also the first public show at Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

While a hiatus happened for the annual Michigan consumer shows as a result of the worldwide pandemic, the next MARVAC RV and Camping Show is scheduled for Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 at Suburban Collection Showplace. Statewide shows are being rescheduled for 2022.

Darren Ing, left, and Bill Sheffer

“Our membership is quite excited and looking forward to the return of the shows,” said Darren Ing, show director and director of MARVAC. “For many of our campground owners and RV dealerships, these shows are an important way for them to connect with consumers shopping for units or accessories, or looking for places to take their RVs on vacation.”

The association also has been awarding scholarships to students with an interest in the RV or campground industries. The Tim DeWitt HARVEST Education Foundation is 501(c)(3) nonprofit education foundation was created in 1991 and has awarded almost $400,000 in financial aid to more than 650 students.

The Michigan Association of Recreation Vehicles and Campgrounds (MARVAC) is a statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging growth in the recreation vehicle and private campground industries while contributing to the quality of Michigan tourism. For more information, visit MARVAC’s website, www.marvac.org.