The Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 87th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase drew 1,849 coaches last week to the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.
Including 70 demonstration coaches, manufacturers displayed more than 275 Class A, B and C motorhomes during the Aug. 27-30 gathering — a larger number than recent FMCA national events.
”We had several units that moved through the show,” said Chris Lusk, FMCA events director. ”Comments were positive and everyone seemed upbeat about the commercial end.”
Display coaches were partially housed for the first time indoors in the fairground’s Champions Pavilion. Particularly popular were the indoor vendor booths. ”The supplier exhibits were crowded every day of the event,” Lusk said.
Lusk reported that the Indianapolis location may be the site of a future reunion.
”It certainly is on the prospect list for the future,” he said. ”The fairgrounds worked very well for us. There were limitations, but there are limitations at every one of our sites.”
Including people with day passes, prior to the event FMCA expected a total of 8,000 people to attend the four-day event at the sprawling 250-acre fairgrounds, although Lusk said Thursday that day-pass numbers were still being tallied.
The 88th FMCA Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase, which will mark FMCA’s 50th anniversary, will be June 19-22, 2013, in Gillette, Wyo.
They roll in from all over North America: Vermont, Indiana, Colorado, New York, Maine, Ontario. Some travel in luxury rigs worth more than $1 million; others arrive in more modest recreational vehicles.
But, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, the biggest draw at the annual Southeast Area Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) rally, which runs Feb. 2-6 at the Hernando County Airport in Brooksville, Fla., is the camaraderie of being a fellow traveler, says Southeast Area president and rally chairman Ralph Marino.
“It’s the American dream to be able to just pick up and go,” Marino said from his office at the airport. “Just about everyone you see here has been RVing for a long time. For many of them, it’s become a way of life.”
Through tough economic times and periods of sky-high fuel prices, the FMCA has hosted rallies for more than 30 years, and in Hernando County for the past 15 years.
And though this year’s pre-registration of 890 coaches is less than Marino would like to see, he doesn’t think the annual pilgrimage is in danger of losing its popularity.
“There are people here who will come no matter what,” he said. “They enjoy what we provide and know it’s an experience they really can’t find anywhere else.”
Participation for the rally peaked in 2007 with nearly 2,000 motorhomes. But when the economy began to sour and fuel prices rose above $3 a gallon, the RV public became more choosy about where it wanted to travel.
Southeast Area vice president Frank Colletti thinks those numbers will start going up, however, as the Baby Boomer generation discovers the joys of the RV lifestyle.
“Having a motorhome is like having a traveling back yard,” Colletti said. “You set up next to a guy and you start talking, and before you know it, you’re good friends. It happens all the time.”
In addition to being able to check out the latest in RV coaches — more than 100 models will be on display — and accessories, participants are able to take advantage of educational seminars dealing with all things RV. Experts will give talks about tire safety, fire protection, fuel mileage tips, vehicle maintenance and food preparation in limited spaces.
In addition, more that 200 vendors will be on hand, hawking everything from fried goodies to carpet cleaning supplies. And there will be daily entertainment.
The five-day event will bring the county a much-needed economic boost as visitors shop at local retail stores, eat at restaurants and visit regional attractions.
The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce estimates the event will pump $10 million or more into the local economy.
Cloudless skies and temperatures in the upper 70’s are providing a fitting backdrop for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase running Aug. 10-13 in Madison, Wisc.
“It’s going absolutely great here in Madison,” Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of member services, told RVBUSINESS.com. “It’s still early, but it looks like we have a great turnout and people are having a wonderful time.”
As of this morning, Yeatts estimated that around 1,800 rigs were on hand with more on the way. “I’d say we’re looking at in the neighborhood of 4,000 people as far as member families,” Yeatts noted. “But just looking around, we are getting a whole lot of people coming in on day passes and more motorhomes are expected to arrive.”
The gathering is centered at the Alliant Energy Center, providing “the perfect venue,” according to Yeatts, with expansive indoor space for the 330 indoor exhibits and ample area outdoors for the 100-plus motorhome displays.
“We are able to hold the majority of our indoor exhibits, seminars and activities all in one building,” Yeatts reported. “And with the majority of the coach displays right outside, people can easily maneuver from one venue to the other. I’d say this is one of the better showings we’ve had in years as far as the number of motorhomes being shown.”
Yeatts noted there were 140 seminars scheduled throughout the event covering a full gamut of topics including healthy cooking and nutrition, motorhome lifestyle, hobbies and crafts, motorhome maintenance, photography and motorhome safety. “We have several industry experts on hand participating in panel discussions on the technical issues,” Yeatts said.
Evening entertainment kicked off Wednesday night with the Parade of Lights, offering a preview of the hundreds of 2011 and 2012 coaches on display, and for sale. Several acts are also scheduled to perform, including Double Grande, featuring pianists Deborah Johnson and Wayland Pickard, and Street Corner Symphony, an a cappella group that finished runner-up during the 2010 season of NBC’s hit show, “The Sing-Off.”
Yeatts emphasized that FMCA also encouraged members to experience the Madison community, with several organized excursions on tap along with wining and dining at the local establishments. And, as has become a tradition at the association’s conventions, a silent auction called “Purses for a Purpose” was planned with donations benefiting the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We have 30 bags donated by staff, officers and members that contain anything from free registration to makeup kits to a safety bag with a fire extinguisher and safety kit,” Yeatts said. “Giving something back to the communities we visit has been a tradition ever since FMCA was formed. I like to think it’s what we’re all about.”
A mini-city is sprouting up in Madison, Wisc., this week. NBC15 TV reported that thousands of motorhome owners are flocking to the area for a national convention at the city’s Alliant Energy Center as the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) hosts the 86th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase Aug. 10-13.
“All total we are expecting about 10,000 folks to be on grounds to enjoy this event. They are just here to have a good time,” said Jerry Yeatts, FMCA director of member services. “It’s a gathering of motorhome owners and people who are just RV enthusiasts, people who just love to travel the United States. People from all over the country are showing up to share their love of the lifestyle.
“We try to go away as much as possible in the summer time,” said Ed Smith who, along with his wife, came all the way from Massachusetts. “This is a way to get out meet some people, do some fun things and visit some fun areas. There is a lot of camaraderie and a lot of friendship.”
Tom Roule is on his way to Yellowstone National Park from New York state. He and his wife have been on the road for the past three weeks.
“If you fly, you go from point A to point B and you don’t get a chance to enjoy what’s in between. Our hobby is taking pictures – most of our souvenirs are pictures,” said Roule.
“They love the outdoors, they love to travel and they love the United States, and what we are here to do is help them to love it even more,” added Yeatts
In addition to socializing, the event even also has an array of units for sale as major motorhome manufacturers and dealers are on hand displaying product. Other companies are also showing their wares, making available RV accessories, components, supplies and campground information.
Roule says the freedom of the open road keeps him coming back. “I mean you can go anywhere you want as long as you can afford the gas,” he said. “You’re always on the road but your home is always with you.”