Local boat, RV show changes format to widen audience

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For 25 years, the Indianapolis Fall Boat and RV Show has attracted mostly local folks and some from around the state to the Indiana State Fairgrounds to check out a host of year-end closeouts.

This year, though, organizers are holding an auction Sept. 27 to kick off the three-day event, which the organizers think will attract outdoor enthusiasts from across the Midwest. Organizers expect as many as 100 items to be auctioned off, ranging in estimated prices from $1,500 to more than $100,000. The auction will be held in the 70,000-square-foot Exposition Hall.

“Our auction is not only going to be the largest in the state, but is also unique in that it is open to the general public,” said Kevin Renfro, president of Renfro Productions and Management, which owns the show. “Auctions of this scale are typically only open to dealers. We think this is going to generate a lot of interest across the region.”

Jeff Boone, an Anderson-based auctioneer who is handling the auction, said the event is already getting a lot of attention.

“I’m hearing from people hundreds of miles away,” Boone said. “The response so far to this new format for this event has been very strong.”

That response, Renfro said, has been fueled by an advertising campaign using television, radio and newspapers statewide, and trade and auction publications—print and online—across the country.

The Fall Boat and RV Show takes place on nearly six acres at the fairgrounds. Event organizers have contemplated an auction for several years, in part because it can be difficult for attendees to see the hundreds of items for sale over such a vast area. With the economy improving in recent years, Renfro said “the time was right” this year.

“Because this show has such a huge variety of items, and with the growing popularity of auctions, we figured, let’s take this and let the dealers drive sales in a different way,” Renfro said.

The auction will include a variety of boats—big and small, for fishing and skiing—and various campers, trailers and recreational vehicles.

“What we’ve seen so far is a very high quality of merchandise,” said Boone, owner of Jeff Boone & Associates Auctioneers. “Dealers are still calling us, and we’re still adding items.”

Each item up for auction will be on display at the fairgrounds and on a 12-foot by 16-foot high-definition screen. In addition to being able to bid live, interested bidders—who must go through a pre-approval process—can bid via phone or the Internet.

“We think that element, given the variety of items we have and the fact that this is so open to the public, could bring in a national audience for this show,” Renfro said.

The auction will begin at 3 p.m., and despite the number of items to auction, will conclude in four hours, Boone said.

“These auctions are fast-paced, and we keep them moving along,” Boone said. “We realize, since this is open to the public, that some bidders may need a little more time than the professional wholesalers we normally deal with. We’ll slow it down a little bit to give bidders ample time to think. But we won’t linger a long, long time on each item.”

An auction preview will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fairgrounds, giving prospective buyers opportunity to take a close look.

Renfro’s company also owns and operates the Indianapolis Boat Sports and Travel Show held each February at the fairgrounds. That show, which will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year, is primarily used by dealers to introduce new models and products.

People can view and bid online at IndyFallShow.com by clicking on the Auction Details tab. Bids will be taken by phone at (765) 621-9116. 


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