Ohio RV Boat Show returns to growing demand after pandemic shutdowns


Columbus was cold and brisk Saturday morning, and salt left over from snow removal stained the pavement beneath the steady foot traffic heading into the Ohio Expo Center.  

But inside the Celeste Center and Bricker Building, visitors dreamed of warmer temperatures and long days spent outdoors as they took in gleaming new boats and pontoons and peeked their heads into sprawling new campers and RVs at the Ohio RV and Boat Show.  

This weekend marks the return of the annual show, which took a hiatus in 2021 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is the 42nd year for the show, which is sponsored by the Central Ohio Marine Dealers Association and the Central Ohio Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association. 

“It’s been nonstop,” show manager Tim Luckhaupt said Saturday morning. On Friday, the show’s opening day, attendance was 18% over the opening Friday from 2020, he said. “We’re very optimistic about this show.”  

Camping and outdoor recreation have thrived throughout the pandemic, as people look for ways to get away and get outdoors, show organizers, dealers and visitors said. The show offers visitors a giant display of camping trailers, travel trailers, motor homes, truck campers, fifth-wheel campers, mini-motor homes, toy haulers, bass boats, cruisers, pontoon boats, personal watercraft and fishing boats, all at preseason sale prices.  

Shawn Coon of RCD RV helps potential buyers view different floor plans on Saturday during the 42nd Ohio RV & Boat Show at the Ohio Expo Celeste Center.

“People want to keep their germs to themselves,” said Michael “Griff” Griffith, product specialist with Specialty RV Sales, which has facilities in Canal Winchester and Lancaster. “They don’t want to be in a hotel, so they just take their own living quarters with them.”  

“People still have the desire to do things, and decided that since they weren’t able to be traveling distances, that they would look at staying in the area, looking at recreational vehicles as a way to get outside, get into the parks throughout Ohio,” Luckhaupt said.  

There are also “people who decided that being out on the water would be a great way to spend time together and make sure they were able to get outside and enjoy the spring, summer and fall weather,” he said. 

Attendees at the 42nd Ohio RV & Boat Show on Saturday walk through harsh light near the Buckeye Lake Marina display.

The Streeter and West families are longtime campers, and found themselves especially grateful for their RVs and their beloved Tree Haven Campground in Westerville when the pandemic hit.  

“We loved it,” said Sharon Streeter, 71, of the Hilltop. “I went to the grocery store, and camping. That’s all I did.” 

“Especially when COVID first started, it was another set of walls to be in,” said Darlene West, 64, of Westerville.  



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