Rod Run posts robust attendance in LeConte Center debut

Apr. 15, 2014 @ 11:11 PM

The first Pigeon Forge Rod Run hosted at the LeConte Center was a success, according to event organizer Byron Cooper.

"Of course we have not tallied everything up yet, but it was just short of 10,000 (people)," Cooper said. "If you factor in the participants here with cars, and vendors, it's probably 11,000 or 12,000."

In 31 previous years, the Rod Run was hosted at the Grand Hotel and Convention Center.

The biggest contribution to this year's numbers, Cooper said, was likely a combination of the large amount of free parking available at the city parking lot next to the LeConte, which was not normally available at the previous venue; and the pleasant weather.

Cooper said the feedback he received from attendees, participants and vendors was universally positive. "We heard about the beauty of the new center and how great the layout is, how spacious it is," Cooper said. "The LeConte worked out perfect."

Phil Campbell, facility manager at the LeConte Center, said that although the building was not designed for a large-scale car show like Rod Run, the event ran smoothly.

"Everything was great," Campbell said. "We had the RV show (in January), but this is the first time we had that many vehicles in the building. It's a challenge, especially move-in and move-out, with all the vehicles in the building like that. They managed it well, and I think that everybody is happy on both sides."

Because this was the first Rod Run at the LeConte, Campbell said a meeting will be held later this week between LeConte and Rod Run officialsto discuss what may need to change for the next event. The fall Rod Run is scheduled for Sept. 11-13 at the LeConte Center.

Even with the large numbers that the Rod Run posted, Campbell said that they do not tell the full story of the impact the Rod Run has on the city.

"From all the folks that come into town, it may be 20% that come to the show itself, whereas a lot of folks just come in to be in town and to see cars going up and down the street," Campbell said. "Without the car show being here, we wouldn't have that other 80%."