WACO Saw Big Attendance, Record Vendors
The 2014 Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO) convention March 12-16 in Stevens Point, Wisc., was a “grand show with a ton of participation,” according to Executive Director Lori Severson.
The show was larger all around this year with 262 attendees from 99 campgrounds, many staying longer than usual for a convention that’s also longer than most state association gatherings. “We had many people that came for one and two days, but then we had a pretty good number that did the whole entire convention for all five days, so that was encouraging,” she said.
The hotel rooms blocked for convention-goers were all booked and exhibitor space was filled to capacity with a “record number” of vendors. “We had 196 booths, counting the table spaces and the outside venues. We reworked the space to net us an additional five spaces, which we promptly filled,” Severson related. “The lineup of exhibitors was one of the best we have had in a long time, and 90% of the exhibitors indicated they would like to come back next year.”
With a “CSI: Wisconsin” — Customer-Service Investigation — theme, the convention’s education and business activities included more than 50 seminars, food-management certification, WACO’s annual meeting and visits from Sarah Klavas of Wisconsin’s Dept. of Tourism and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, while for-fun elements included Kids Kamp, casino night, Storage Wars auctions, a golf-cart giveaway and celebrity guests such as “Cheers” television star George Wendt and Green Bay Packers players Gilbert Brown and William Henderson.
Severson said the heavy play-to-work ratio is purposely orchestrated and a leading reason the WACO convention is the largest of its kind, drawing regular attendees even from other states.
“That’s one of the biggest comments that we’ve gotten, truly. This is where people come to get energized for the season,” she said. “It’s fun, and that is truly what our industry is about.”