Close to 3,000 enthusiasts of the iconic, aerodynamic silver bullets of the American highway will begin rolling into Sweetwater County later this month.
The 66th Airstream International Rally is at the Sweetwater Events Complex from June 24 through July 1.
The annual event brings a vibrant community of Airstream owners “that will leave a lasting positive impact on the local economy,” according to event organizers.
Expected spending on dining, transportation and other economic impacts for the 10-day rally is estimated at more than $2.6 million based on the Wyoming Travel & Tourism 2022 Economic Impact of Travel Report.
“The Sweetwater Events Complex, Airstream Club Team, Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Rock Springs worked together to ensure that the rally attendees will visit local restaurants, bars and shops while attending the rally,” says an Airstream Club International press release.
A Great Investment
What makes Airstream unique, aside from its polished, riveted aluminum shield, is that they last and hold value.
Josh Decker, general manager of Airstream of Wyoming in Etna, said the company has been building the sleek aluminum house trailers since 1931. Production was interrupted during World War II because of aluminum rationing.
“They’re a luxury product, an iconic piece of Americana,” Decker said.
What sets Airstream apart in both quality and cost is they are made by hand. The extra cost comes mainly from labor.
“The main thing in the sticker price is labor,” Decker said. “Aluminum is a little more expensive, but the main price difference comes from the man hours that go into riveting it all together.”
Decker added that Airstream uses modern appliances and all of the furniture is built on site at the company plant in Jackson Place, Ohio. The aluminum shell flexes with the suspension and there are no right angles on the roof where leaks can happen.
These house trailers are so durable and long-lasting there’s even a sub-group of Airstream owners that seek out vintage models.
Decker, who grew up in Powell, Wyoming, said he worked in a Salt Lake City Airstream dealership that took in a 1964 model, updated the appliances and sold it for about $40,000.
“They will last for as long as you want to take care of them,” Decker said.
Airstream founder Wally Byam built his first trailer in 1929 in his backyard in Baker City, Oregon. He built the trailer on the chassis of a Ford Model T because his wife, Marion, didn’t like sleeping on the ground in a tent.
Byam later led caravans of people pulling Airstreams all over the world. One caravan went from Cape Town South Africa to Cairo, Egypt. Another traveled from California to the southern tip of Chile.
But those big caravan trips have been replaced by an annual rally and an occasional event hosted at the company factory in Ohio called Alumapalooza.