Window shoppers and serious lookers had a feast for their eyes at the Ron Hoover RV & Marine Center open house Jan. 9-10.
While there is no Valley-wide RV show this year, visitors at the 14th annual Ron Hoover event sure didn’t miss it as they ambled among hundreds of RV units including luxurious motor homes, 5th wheels, travel trailers of various lengths, all-terrain vehicles, golf carts and lots of fishing boats. That is when they weren’t interrupted for a hot dog lunch, taking health screening tests given by South Texas Vocational Technical Institute students from the McAllen campus or talking to RGV Vipers basketball representatives about game promotions. And it was also necessary to get a Ron Hoover T-shirt and a ticket for the grand prize drawing.
Among those looking inside a Big Horn 5th wheel were Ed and Ellen Crape, who won one of the grand prizes at last year’s open house. The couple from Wisconsin, who stay in a park model at Paradise South Park in Mercedes, chose an electric golf cart prize so they could replace a balky old gas-powered cart at home.
The Crapes, who have been coming to the Valley for the past 20 years, were checking out the Big Horn models as they once owned a 40-footer. Now they haul a 27-foot travel trailer when they roam the upper Midwest.
John and Michelle Tieden were customers of Ron Hoover’s, having purchased a 5th wheel back in 2014. The couple has only missed two Ron Hoover open houses over the past decade.
Originally from Minnesota, the couple became full-time RVers in 2011 after selling their house and his sporting goods business. Winters they stay at Circle T RV Park in Mission and for the past eight summers have been at Glacier National Park in Montana, where Michelle is manager of the park lodge gift shop.
The Tiedens were familiar with the Valley as her parents had first come here in 1996. In her parents latter years, they drove them to the Valley. John said they really “like it down here.” They do health fairs, hit the flea markets and enjoy cribbage tournaments, with plans to enter the Golden Age Olympics tourney next month. They do some traveling too, places like Corpus Christi, hitting the beaches on day excursions, going to the Eagle Pass casino and have plans to visit Space X at Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville.
Michael and Rosa Redman, Brownsville residents, were checking out a Georgetown motor home during the open house, Michael, who originally hails from Ohio, has retired twice, the first in 1995 from the U.S. Army after 21 years of service and then in 2017 from a security job.
He and Rosa, an El Paso native, have traveled quite a bit in their 5th wheel through eastern Canada and the East Coast states. Michael said they loved it. They settled in Brownsville to have a home address for Veterans Administration requirements. They are looking at doing a nine-month trip to Montana, Idaho and maybe the Pacific Coastal areas soon.
Charles and Cariol Nelson have been campers ever since they were married, which will be 62 years this month. The couple, who stay at Tierra Blanca RV Park in Penitas during the winter, are Oklahoma natives and spend summers near their hometown.
harles was a heavy equipment operator and then a construction superintendent for the local phone company, where he worked for 26 years. That experience was helpful when the couple came to volunteer at the Valley Baptist Retreat Center in Mission in 2000. For about a decade he did maintenance and she headed the sewing ministry at the center. The couple has traveled over a large part of the U.S., first in a motor home, then a 5th wheel and now a travel trailer.
Mark Hirsbrunner, an Iowa resident, came over to the event from nearby Casa Del Sol MH/RV Resort. Hirsbrunner traveled a lot in his motor home, but now has a mobile home in the Donna park. He availed himself of the health screening tests while at the open house.
Another neighbor to Ron Hoover’s center was Leopoldo Flores Salas, who is part of the Donna headquartered circus, Ciaco Hermamos Vazquez. Salas who is the circus’ tent manager, was the first day’s grand prize winner. He had the winning ticket, which was called out by Chris Hoover, company president. Salas took his time in deciding between one of the three vehicles offered. After consulting the family, he chose the travel trailer.
On the second day, Marjorie Strachota, a Winter Texan from Nebraska, won the grand prize. She chose a new golf cart.
Strachota, who has visited the Valley on short vacations in the past, said this is their first long term stay. She also has two sister and a brother who stay in the Valley. They have been able to stay in Mission and Casa Del Sol and are now staying in Casa Del Valle.
Last year she was able to attend the Ron Hoover event and was only one number away from winning a grand prize.
She thought it funny to win this year because of the circumstances last year – and that she went both days this year. On the first day, she went up to Chris Hoover – “because he had the name tag on” and said met him thanking him for the event.
“I wanted to thank him, and the Winter Texan Times for advertising, otherwise I might not have been at the event,” she said. “They are really nice,” added Strachota.
“It was so exciting,” she said about winning.
What’s the old saying, she said. “Come to Texas – and they give you a golf cart.”
The Hoovers enjoy holding the open house, which Chris Hoover noted is made possible thanks to the hard work of their staff members.
“It is a way of giving back to the community,” he commented.