My sister and her husband came in with friends and camped in Quartzsite in the BLM area La Posa West which is an easy walk to the Big Tent. We drove over to spend time with them and take advantage of their parking spot after the first day when we got shoved out into a sandy bog by parking attendants and had to kick into 4 wheel drive lest we get stuck like many others who kept the tow trucks busy. It didn’t help that some fool in front of us in a 2 wheel drive kept hitting his brakes and stopping in front of us. You don’t stop in sand! Anyway, it was great seeing my sister again. We BBQ’d and played cards. I hear she, like many others, enjoyed the ice cream vendor very much outside the Big Tent. Yah, I didn’t shop with her. The RV show is the sort of place for people on a mission to go it alone and see all they can while they can.
The Big Tent really is BIG! It doesn’t stop there either as vendors abound outside around it as well. You can find pretty much everything RV related in Quartzsite at this time of year and lots of just plain old living items as well. Camping chairs and RV mats were very popular. There were some RV insurance agents there. Good Sam, Passport America, Escapees, and Coast to Coast were all represented. Many campgrounds and tourism bureaus were there. Along with RV parts dealers, there were dealers for new RV wonder gadgets, Honda Yamaha generators, a vendor of tools for women (pink hammers?), cooking pots and utensils, miscellaneous tools of all types, used items, cheap groceries, solar panels, rocks and gems, jewelry, T-shirts, socks, other clothing, personal shopping carts for flea markets, camping tables, books, videos, LED lights, solar lights, decorative items for inside and out for those that still have a house, food, over the counter drug store items, and lots more. There was something for everyone. Even Verizon showed up with a fantastic deal on phones that also provide 3G internet service over Wi-Fi to 5 other devices or users (Lots of happy users now including me.).
To be honest, a lot of what is there is not necessarily the best possible price and we found some things cheaper in the Tyson Wells area and other areas of Quartzsite than in the Big Tent. I found one item we needed cheaper on Amazon.com with free shipping. The Quartzsite RV show is more about bringing everything you might want as an RVer into one place at one time of year which is certainly very handy and a good time to get off the road for awhile to make those repairs or changes you wanted.
We managed to score very well. I liked the tool and RV parts vendors most. We love the new RV mat and LED lights. We picked up some more parts for RV repairs and upgrades. I still scored my wonder sponge and towel though like everyone else. We shopped the cheap groceries as much as possible to save. I stopped by my club booths and made the Escapees give me a hug. It took a bit but I managed to find a Quartzsite Trailer Trash T-shirt I like in my size and color.
We checked out all the used goods dealers as well and found some deals there. I am very happy with my used backpack that doubles as a chair and have used it several times already. I also found a used silicon muffin pan (no rattle and easy muffin removal). Another vendor had some new water bags among their junk which are great for weighing down things in the wind but take up very little room when empty. It’s these little pearls you find that really make your day.
Be sure to check out all the Quartzsite areas. We found good deals in the Main Event area, others in the Chamber of Commerce area, some in the storefronts along the main street, some at Rice Ranch, some at Tyson Wells, and some in the Big Tent. Prices can vary widely and there are hidden goodies here and there among the usual stuff.
The local McDonald’s got a lot of traffic during the show and they were very well prepared for it. Outstanding service and fast lines along with a great special on Big Macs. The store is well designed too with a lounge area equipped with power plugs for laptops to use while using their free Wi-Fi.
The parking sucked as expected. There actually is a lot of parking but most of it requires a good bit of walking. Everything close gets parked up early. Stay away from the sandy washes unless you have 4 wheel drive and even then be careful. We managed to get around the traffic at least with careful route planning. It pays to come in before the area gets really going and see the deficits in traffic planning. The 1st Quartzsite I10 off-ramp going east is just ridiculous. They seriously need to consider putting a stop light in there. I also avoided driving east through Tyson Wells during the show as much as possible. Coming in from the opposite direction is much better.
My only real gripe would be time. There just wasn’t enough of it. There never is.