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RVs are on display -- and in demand; Fairgrounds show continues today

Gas prices got you down?

Well, not everyone is worried.

Paying an average of $4.11 for a gallon of gas in Western New York didn't discourage folks from turning out Saturday to the Western New York Boat and RV Show to kick the tires on a new recreational vehicle.

That's right, those same RVs that get you roughly 8 miles per gallon.

"The RV business is doing just fine," said Bob Snyder, the promoter of Saturday's show at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. "Even when gas prices rose back in 2008 it hurt this business a little bit, but not that bad."

Snyder makes the same case as a recent poll by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association: Despite rising gas prices, nearly two-thirds of RV owners surveyed will use their motor homes and travel trailers even more this spring and summer than they did last year -- they'll just stick closer to home.

In fact, Snyder expected between 50 to 60 RVs to be sold this weekend as a result of the Hamburg show, where sticker prices ranged from less than $15,000 to more than $70,000.

Colton RV, one of the six dealerships at the show, said the RV business has been getting better since it took a hit with the economy in 2008.

Colton -- which has locations in North Tonawanda and Orchard Park -- sold 52 RVs back in January during a 10-day show, said Tim Nelligan, sales and finance manager for Colton.

"Since 2008," Nelligan said, "business has definitely climbed up back to where it should be."

Many went to the show Saturday just to gawk at the luxury vehicles, equipped with flat-screen televisions, plush sofas and beds, bathrooms and efficiency kitchens.

"We just came to see what we can't afford," said one man.

"Just browsing," said another man. "It's fun to look."

But others had varying levels of interest.

John and Heather DeLisle came to the Hamburg show from Welland, Ont.

The couple were checking out RVs for their trip to a weeklong festival in Nevada this year. The RVs are beautiful, John DeLisle said, but they don't plan on buying.

"We're probably going to rent one," he added. "We don't need something really big."

David and Kathy Zapiec, of Angola, were a little more serious about buying an RV -- at least, after they retire.

"This is more of a first step," David Zapiec said of Saturday's visit to the RV show.

"For me," Kathy Zapiec chimed in, "I'd buy one today. Why wait?"

She's not interested in flying on planes or worrying about hotel bedbugs. In an RV, she said, the couple could just load up their four dogs and be on their way. And while her husband was thinking about rising gas prices, Kathy Zapiec wasn't.

"You're either paying for gas or the price of plane ticket," Kathy Zapiec said. "Friends of ours just went to Florida for $600 a ticket."

Bill Geary, meanwhile, seemed most ready to buy.

Geary, of West Seneca, had a camper back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when his kids were younger. Now, he and his wife are retired. They have family in Texas and Louisiana they'd like to visit. Geary wants to travel along the Atlantic Coast.

When you consider the air fare and hotel costs, Geary says, an RV would be more cost-effective.

"If you want to see the country," said Geary, who was eyeing up one travel trailer in particular, "this is the way to go."

When asked if he had a big enough truck to pull it, Geary said, "No."

He'd have to get one of those, too.

The boat and RV show continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the Fairgrounds Event Center. Admission is $5. Those younger than 16 get in free with an adult.