On Super Bowl Sunday, when the rest of us are gorging on corn chips and meatballs, crews will be ferrying pop-ups, fifth-wheelers, diesel-pushers and all sorts of other recreational vehicles to the parking lot of the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.

That’s how the three-and-a-half-day set-up starts to roll for the five-day Detroit Camper & RV Show that begins Wednesday — the 52nd annual such expo presented by the Michigan Association of Recreational Vehicles and Campgrounds.

While the rigs are poised outdoors, indoors crews are scurrying to ready each dealer’s display space in the giant facility, executing an elaborate floor plan that has been months in the making. The timing of the show is no accident — MARVAC says it has “a lock” on expo space to avoid competing with the big game.

Come that day, promoters are keeping fingers crossed that bad weather won’t put a hitch in the plans by sullying the RVs with slush and mud. If that happens, an extra step — last-minute power-washing — will be part of the staging process.

“At 7 a.m. on Monday, I open the doors,” said Darren Ing, director of MARVAC. “And a very laborious process begins. Each dealer has a specific door to use and a specific time, to get at least 285 units into the showplace by 3 p.m.”

Once that happens, crews begin to burnish the exterior of the rigs while decorators swarm in to detail the interior of the trailers and motor coaches — adding homey touches so patrons can visualize life on the road.

Another behind-the-scenes tidbit: You won’t see the exact same RV model presented by more than one dealer. That has to do with franchise agreements among manufacturers and retailers, to protect franchisees and prevent a glut of duplicate models at expos.

Aside from the nearly 300 RVs, about 50 other exhibitors add to the bustle. They offer camping equipment, RV accessories and other “one-stop shopping” merchandise, Ing said. Seminars on topics from RV electronics and using over-the-air TV, to suspension and hitch issues will be presented throughout the show.

Promoters are optimistic about this year’s RV sales. The industry’s trade group says it expects to ship more than 491,000 units, which would make for the ninth straight year of growth in an industry hit hard by the recession. Interest in RVing by millennials — who prefer more rugged rigs that can go off-road and carry equipment like kayaks — is another trend, Ing said.

He says his show’s dealers keep exact sales figures close to the vest, but that it’s not uncommon for small companies to sell 30 or 40 units over the course of the show, with larger dealers selling upward of 100.

It’s unheard of for dealers to give up their space, says Ing, and the size and position of each’s layout is based on seniority — one reason patrons can find their go-to dealer in pretty much the same part of expo hall each year.

Melissa Preddy is a Michigan-based freelance writer. Reach her via

RV show

What: 52nd Annual Detroit Camper & RV Show

When: Feb. 7-11. Open 2-9 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 10, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 11.

Where: Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River, Novi

Admission: $10 age 13 and over, $9 age 56 and over, free for age 12 and under. Parking is additional.

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