Things couldn’t have gone much better for the independent Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase, held last week (June 19-22) on the association’s 50th anniversary at an elaborate and relatively remote 1,100-acre venue called CAM-PLEX in the northeast Wyoming community of Gillette.
“It was a great event,” FMCA Executive Director Jerry Yeatts told RVBUSINESS.com as he made his way home on Monday (June 24). “We had nearly 2,300 family members in attendance and we had the best number of display coaches that we’ve had in a long time, and I think we had some record sales as far as our indoor exhibitors are concerned. So, all in all, it was a fantastic event with plenty of celebration involving our 50th anniversary.”
Recognizing the association’s Golden Anniversary in Gillette was a “nostalgia room” full of FMCA paraphernalia as well as the showing in an on-site theater of old video clips from previous events and a 1973 film called “Peaceful Invasion” about FMCA members converging en masse on Du Quoin, Ill.
Also drawing plenty of attention in Gillette was a prominent display of privately owned Flxble coaches — iconic, aerodynamic units dating back to the 1950’s that were converted from over-the-road buses. The Flxible has been featured in FMCA’s logo since its inception.
Although Yeatts said he hadn’t had a chance yet to touch bases with several outdoor exhibitors, including a good representation of North America’s major motorhome builders, the word from interior vendors pitching everything from campgrounds to food processors and RV parts and accessories at the CAM-PLEX’s Wyoming Center was consistently upbeat.
“It was one of the busiest events that we’ve had as far as traffic in the indoor exhibits,” said Yeatts on behalf of the Cincinnati-based owners group. “And in speaking to many of them, they were quite pleased with the outcome of sales. As for the outdoor exhibits, there were a few that said they were pleased and one that I had a chance to touch bases with who described their experience here as ‘awesome,’ whatever that means in terms of sales.”
At the same time, Yeatts agrees, the general picture in Gillette seemed to be an affirmation in many ways of the vitality of today’s consumer marketplace with so many coaches in such a remote location – a city of about 30,000 that’s been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years due to vast area reserves of coal, oil and coal bed methane gas. The Wyoming Center, a 9,000 seat arena, was completed in 2008 at the sprawling CAM-PLEX, which hosts events ranging from concerts and balls to the National High School Finals Rodeo.
Yeatts, for his part, was highly complimentary of the CAM-PLEX staff, especially in its supportive response after a fairly strong hail storm that swept across the area on Saturday, the last day of the convention.
“Well, it definitely wasn’t an easy-to-get-to location for us,” said Yeatts, “but I think the family members who came just had a great experience, a great time – even with some storms that came through on Friday and Saturday. We did experience some damage from about an inch and a half of pea-sized hail that fell on Saturday afternoon, which dampened the ending of our indoor and outdoor exhibits. The water actually came through the doors of the Wyoming Center. So, it was quite a storm. But, thankfully, the damage was minimal, no one was injured and we all kind of took it in stride.”