Have you ever dreamed of leaving everything behind to live in a van and travel freely?
It was clear this weekend; it’s becoming quite a trend.
The Adventure Van Expo at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds saw 65 van businesses showing off their wares to the public over the course of Saturday and Sunday.
The expo began in Lake Tahoe in 2018 and now travels across the country.
Though it’s traveled to Oregon before, this was the first time it stopped in Central Oregon.
“We’re actually here in Bend because Bend probably has one of the highest van ownerships per capita of probably anywhere else in the country. You can drive down the street in Bend and you’ll see a van every five houses,” said the expo’s founder and promoter Neil Morse.
“We love Oregon, we absolutely love this venue…we’ll be back, they’ve been great to us here.”
Brian Jagodnik, the Marketing and Creative Director at Portland-based Outside Van, said the attraction to “Van Life” is no surprise.
“When it comes to van life, it’s all connecting to freedom in a way,” he said. “Freedom to travel off-grid, freedom to not be plugged in and go from your house to a campground, to go take the road less traveled and to be out away from everybody, and connecting to the people you’re with.”
Jagodnik said the surge in popularity is very recent.
“It’s amazing, four years ago, van events were around but not nearly a popular as they are now,” he said. “So now that this event is traveling around and putting these vans in everybody’s backyard, and for people to get to go around and compare van company to van company…it’s been fantastic, and we can’t wait to do more of these.”
Despite the smoky air, the event saw quite a turnout, and both local and national companies were represented.
The expo runs May through October, and their next stop is in Chattanooga, Tennessee.