CEDAR FALLS — As snow melted in the streets Saturday, people were streaming into the UNI-Dome to get a taste of ways to spend more time outside.
The 30th annual Iowa Boat, RV and Vacation Show was expected to bring 10,000 people through the doors over three days for a look at dozens of boats, recreational vehicles and other products from 75 vendors catering to those eager to spend the warmer months outdoors. It wraps up today.
“I think the weather’s really getting people excited about summer,” said show producer John Bunge. “This is a good one-stop shop for people — they don’t have to drive around.”
It’s also a good time to order an RV if you want it by the time campgrounds open, said employees with Couler Valley RV in Dubuque.
It was the company’s third year at the show, and they brought three RVs — a fifth-wheel trailer and two travel trailers — for people to wander around inside.
Sales manager Doug Biddick said his business sells a lot of 19- to 25-foot travel trailers, and today’s customers were looking for lots of technological capability — satellite-ready, automatic leveling systems and power awnings among them.
“We’ve seen the trend actually going toward smaller units, but we brought the bigger units,” Biddick said as customers streamed in and out of the three RVs.
Midwest Boats in Cedar Falls was already doing a brisk business — it sold four boats on Friday and two boats in just the first two hours Saturday.
“Friday night was the best we’ve seen in years,” said owner Terry Kuchenberg.
Pontoons still made up the biggest portion of its sales, with the ability to fit 14 or 15 people safely on board and added power.
“They’re not your grandpa’s pontoon — you can water ski and tube behind them now,” Kuchenberg said.
He said Midwest Boats has been coming to the Dome since 1989. He used to do several shows around the state, but is focused on this one now.
“This is the best show in the state of Iowa,” Kuchenberg said, noting the quality of merchandise and the size of the crowds.
Other vendors — from those selling camping gear and fishing rods to grills, hot tubs and ATVs — filled in the gaps between the large RVs and boats. That included Crawdaddy Outdoors, which had several kayaks on display.
“People are excited about getting on the water,” said owner Darrin Siefken, who said he’s been at the show for the last six years.
New trends in kayaking include fishing kayaks, which have room for gear, and kayaks that are pedaled instead of rowed.
“The weather’s great, and people are looking to get a bargain,” Siefken said.