Spring Samboree Draws Hundreds of RVers to Ohio
Relaxing in a comfortable folding chair under the shaded coolness of a camper awning at the Muskingum County Fairgrounds in Zanesville, Ohio, Marilyn Reigle enjoyed catching up with friends and taking in new sights and experiences.
"I've never been in Zanesville before," she said. "I'm looking forward to the tours and good entertainment. It's a relaxing time, and a way to get away from home."
Marilyn and her husband, Marvin Reigle, made the jaunt from Beaverdam, Ohio, to Zanesville this week because they didn't want to miss a few days of fellowship and fun, the Zanesville Times Recorder reported.
They joined hundreds of like-minded campers at the fairgrounds for the annual Ohio Spring Samboree, organized by the Ohio Good Sam Club.
The Good Sam Club began more than 40 years ago with the goal of making RVing safe and enjoyable. Membership allows participants to share in benefits such as discounts at campgrounds, recreational vehicle stores, car rentals and emergency roadside service.
The official event runs through Sunday, but many decided to make it a week-long affair.
"It's a lot of fun," said Esthermay Brooks, international "sambassador" from Maryland. "You make lifelong friends from all over the country, you become family to each other and you're never alone on the road."
While some states have one major Samboree per year, Ohio has three, beginning with the Zanesville spring gathering. Upcoming events include the summer Samboree from July 14 to 17 in Wapakoneta, then the fall gathering from Sept. 16 to 18 in Coshocton.
Each event features a different theme; this week's is "Wild Wild West." The camping gala offers numerous activities from games and entertainment to vendors and local tours, many of which contain a western element.
"You'll probably see some cowboys, Indians and teepees," said Pat Spragg, who serves as a co-state director with her husband, Dave.
With uncertain economic times, fluctuating gas prices and other issues, participation numbers are down slightly this year. Wagonmaster Tom Nutter said 300 to 400 campers is the norm, but Spragg said preregistration for this first Samboree of the year was about 289.
Regardless, hundreds of visitors of all ages gathered to pepper the fairgrounds with a variety of RVs.
"I always look forward to it," Brooks said. "Good Sam is family-oriented and not just for 'old' people. A lot of people are retired, but it reaches all ages. My husband and I have been camping for 34 years. It's a lifestyle we've chosen. We've been to 49 of the 50 states with just Hawaii left to go. Our kids have seen and learned so much."
"I enjoy the fellowship we have, knowing you can count on your fellow campers," Mickey Fiore said. She and her husband, Marvin Fiore of Dayton, are also extensive travelers. "We go to all three Samborees, and we love being in Zanesville."