Officials said they are taking steps to ensure the organizers of an annual RV rally renew their lease and stay on for many more years at the regional airport in Florida’s Hernando County.
Hernando Today reported that County Commission Chairman Dave Russell met with the board of directors of the Southeast Area Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Rally and has instructed staff to put together a report for the commission to discuss at an upcoming meeting.
Russell told Hernando Today some ideas have already been floated and, if they work out, would help convince the FMCA that Hernando County is the place to be.
Russell said the county will discuss extending the association’s lease through September, an extra six months.
“(That will) give us some breathing room to see what we can accomplish to accommodate our good friends,” Russell said.
If past rallies are any indication, these road warriors could pump in $10 million or more into the local economy.
Russell said the board will discuss the following remedies:
• Constructing a multipurpose building on airport property that allows the FMCA to save money on tents and provide a more expansive gathering place for meetings and other activities. The association used to lease a hangar from the now-defunct Brooksville Air Center to house their events. The county could explore ways for other groups, such as the Hernando County Cattlemen’s Association, to also use the building. Conrad Kleinpeter, an FMCA regional vice president, said it costs the association some $80,000 to erect tents for the annual rally.
• Moving the rally to the southwestern portion of the airport, which would not interfere with the planned expansion of aviation-related development at the current site. The FMCA would benefit because it would provide easier access for RV-goers.
• Discussing with airport tenants the possibility of leasing one of their hangars during the five days the rally is in town.
“We’re looking at every option that may be available to us in order to help them make a decision to stay here,” Russell said.
Russell stressed that the airport has limited flexibility on its lease charge, which is some $12,000 annually.
Sue Marino, an FMCA representative, called it premature to say there is anything in the works to move the rally to another site.
“Nothing has been determined yet,” she said.
Marino said the board of directors is talking with airport officials about the situation, including moving to Volusia County.
Hernando County Aviation Chairman Gary Schraut said the FMCA is a “major priority” and all involved are willing to work with the board to keep them here.
“They’ve been great tenants,” Schraut said. “They’re a great group of people. They can bring thousands of people here at one time.”
Schraut said if the FMCA directors are willing to commit to staying here, then the county can more seriously explore having a multipurpose building available to them.
“There are many opportunities,” Schraut said.
You might describe Rudy and Betty Roggenkamp as ultimate RVers.
As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, every winter they load up their 36-foot Bounder motorhome and head south from Vernon, Conn., to Florida. One of the couple’s prime stop-offs has been the annual Southeast Area rally of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), south of Brooksville.
During their weeklong stay, the Roggenkamps spend money. Lots of it. They shop in local grocery stores, buy fuel for their motorhome and try to make at least a couple of visits to their favorite local restaurant, the Masaryktown Cafe on U.S. 41.
“It’s a very comfortable place for us,” said Betty Roggenkamp, 81. “We love the area, and people here have always been friendly to us.”
As this year’s rally got under way Wednesday (Feb. 6), news that organizers are considering moving the event next year from its 15-year home at Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport to the Volusia County Fairgrounds wasn’t greeted with enthusiasm by the Roggenkamps, who have been making the annual trek for the past eight years.
Nonetheless, the couple, like many others who spoke Wednesday to the Times, said they will likely go wherever the event goes.
“We’ll have to, if we want to see our friends,” said Bob Saunders, 79, of Port Charlotte, Fla., who along with his wife, Carol, has attended the event since 2004. “I like the area, but I’m not sure it makes much difference where they hold it. RV people go because of the event, not necessarily the location.”
The rally, which runs through Sunday, has always meant an economic boon to Hernando County. Up until a few years ago, the rally typically drew upward of 2,000 motor coaches from throughout the eastern United States. This year’s event is expected to attract about 800 coaches.
To view the entire article click here.
For the past 15 years, the Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport has served as a roost for the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) annual Southeast Area rally.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that the wintertime event, which attracts upward of 1,000 well-to-do recreational vehicle owners from all over the South, has been a welcome boon to Hernando County’s economy, with visitors packing restaurants, grocery stores and local attractions during their weeklong stay.
But the good times may well be over once the parade of RVs heads out of town after next week’s rally. Some members of the organization’s current regional board have decided it might be time to move the event to another location.
Southeast chapter president Ralph Marino said that although a final decision has not yet been made, the question of staying in Brooksville comes down to economics.
“Our attendance is decreasing and our costs keep going up. It’s as simple as that,” Marino said. “Right now, nothing has been decided, but we’re looking at other options.”
Word of the possible pullout — and that the county might favor the rally’s departure — filtered out to local government officials in recent days, and a meeting was scheduled with FMCA Southeast committee members Tuesday. Airport manager Don Silvernell said that he and County Commission Chairman Dave Russell wanted to know what could be done to keep the group in Hernando County.
To read the entire article click here.
The 2012 Second Annual Country Coach Friendship Rally drew 170 highline motorcoach owners to the Junction City, Ore., community for the July 24-28 event. According to a press release, the rally was presented by Country Coach Friends Inc. (CCFI), an international chapter of Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA).
During the rally, the group donated $9,600 dollars to Junction City Local Aid and God’s Storehouse in Harrisburg. Money was raised through raffle ticket sales and a live auction. Last year, the rally attendees donated over $8,000 two these organizations which provide emergency assistance to families in need. The presentation of the $9,600 in total monies raised to the two food banks will take place later this week at the Junction City Local Aid.
Many of the 170 motorcoachers have extended their stay in the Junction City community, enjoying the south Willamette Valley. The annual CCFI Club Rally event returns to Oregon each year for the Friendship Rally, which is in close proximity to the former manufacturing headquarters for Country Coach Inc.
Due to the growth rate of the club, other venues in Eugene and Albany area are being explored for 2013’s rally site.
The Good Sam Club today (July) announced the dates for the organization’s two scheduled rallies in 2013.
According to a press release, the first event will be held April 11-14 in Albuquerque, N.M., at the Balloon Fiesta Field, followed by a June 13-16 rally in Syracuse, N.Y., at the New York State Fair.
“Many club members and RV industry personnel have been asking about our 2013 Rally schedule,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of the Good Sam Club and Camping World Inc. “In 2012, we expanded our rally schedule to make the events accessible to more members. After the terrific response we got from both members and exhibitors at our 2012 Louisville Rally last month and at our Phoenix rally earlier this year, we determined that we would schedule two Rallies in 2013.”
Good Sam is still accepting reservations for the last of the three 2012 Rallies presented by DISH, to be held in Daytona, Fla., at the Daytona International Speedway, Nov. 2-4. Entertainment at the Daytona Rally will feature country superstar Reba McEntire and American Idol’s Katharine McPhee.
“With an exciting location like the Daytona International Speedway, the outstanding entertainment, not to mention all of the great rally activities, we are expecting a big turnout and a great time for all of our guests,” said Lemonis.
Despite the oppressive heat, Fleetwood RV Inc.’s national “Back Home in Indiana” rally got off to a good start last night (June 28) with a large assemblage of 335 coaches at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen, Ind. This is the Decatur, Ind.-based company’s fourth national rally and is actually the second largest since Fleetwood, established in 2009 when American Industrial Partners Capital Fund IV LP of New York acquired the Decatur operations of Fleetwood Enterprises Inc., set up shop some 70 miles southeast of Goshen. Along with displays of 2013 product lines, Fleetwood’s owners are being treated to a busy schedule of supplier seminars and family-oriented activities and entertainment, according to Director of Marketing Steve Hileman. “It’s going very well,” said Hileman, seated Friday in a new longer 35-foot version of the compact Excursion Class A that debuted at last winter’s Louisville Show. “In addition to those 335 owner coaches, we’ve got more than 40 display units on hand. We’re close enough to our plant in Decatur that we’re doing daily buses back to the plant for plant tours, and they’re sold out. It’s incredibly popular. We’ve got a waiting list 50-people long just to get on the bus every day. It’s been a breath of fresh air, honestly, to have this sort of a homecoming rally, bringing everybody to Indiana and getting them here to see the plant. It’s close enough that we can show them a lot of new product. And there’s no one more appreciative of that than our Fleetwood owners.”
Heartland Recreational Vehicles welcomed around 280 RVers towing 133 rigs June 14-17 at the Cam-Plex in picturesque Gillette, Wyo., marking the seventh running of the Annual North American Heartland Owners Rally.
According to a press release, the national rally, hosted by the Elkhart, Ind.-based builder, has evolved into a major event for owners as attendees in Gillette represented 34 states and three Canadian provinces. Jim Beletti, director of owners interests for Heartland, reported that a majority of the club members arrived a week early for an informal pre-rally, held at the Box Elder Campground situated on the Cam-Plex grounds.
“Attendees had a great time catching up with friends and making new ones, along with enjoying potlucks, open houses and visiting local restaurants,” Beletti said. “Our goal is to offer something for everybody.”
Founded in March 2008 under the direction of Beletti, the Heartland Owners Club has continued to refine and expand its rally program. The Gillette gathering offered a full range of activities, including nine lifestyle and 13 technical seminars. In addition, local dealer Stalkups RV Superstore provided owners with a first-hand tour of the company’s latest travel trailer and fifth-wheel models.
During the official opening of the rally on Thursday, Heartland Vice President of Sales Coley Brady visited the Cam-Plex, spending the day with club members and delivering an address that evening. “Heartland RV takes great pride in hosting this special event as the rally is a wonderful experience for participants,” Brady said.
Chris Hermon, who recently succeeded Brian Brady as Heartland president, said that the interaction with Heartland’s customer base is not only key to building relationships, but also provides valuable feedback on product.
“Customers drive our decisions every day as we develop and enhance our product lines,” Hermon said. “These kinds of events give us the opportunity to learn more about our products by hearing directly from the people that use them. It’s just one more factor that separates Heartland from the competition.”
During the event, attendees toured some of the landmarks in Gillette, including a trip to the Alpha Butte Mine and the Rock Pile Museum, while also providing a boost to the local business community.
“When the club holds rallies in communities around North America, we have an economic impact on these communities with campground fees paid, diesel fuel bought, and money spent at restaurants and local businesses,” Beletti said.
He also stressed that one of the staples during each rally sponsored by the Heartland Owners Club is to include a “charitable component.”
“This year in Gillette, we selected ‘Blessings in a Backpack’ for our ‘Heartland Gives Back’ initiative,” Beletti said. “I set a goal of $2,000 – enough to fund 25 backpacks of food to feed 25 children for an entire weekend during the school year. I am pleased to report that on the final day of the rally, we presented 94 giving envelopes containing a total of $4,224 – enough to fully fund 53 backpacks.”
The numbers weren’t as strong as hoped for, but things apparently went well for the Good Sam Rally that concluded Sunday (June 24) in Louisville, Ky.
The four-day event hosted by Good Sam Enterprises LLC and staged at the Kentucky Exposition Center – site of the industry’s National RV Trade Show – drew 2,033 guest rigs, according to Sue Bray, rally director.
Bray reported to RVBUSINESS.com that the numbers were down slightly from the last rally held in Louisville two years ago and were off appreciably from this year’s spring rally at the Phoenix International Speedway, which attracted 3,370 units comprising about 7,500 people.
She added that non-RVer attendance went “exceptionally well” in Louisville as the public gate topped 5,000, thanks again to some hefty promotions in area media prior to the event.
Bray blamed the overall decrease in attendance to high gas prices and the fact that, for the first time, Good Sam is staging three rallies in one year instead of one – turning each event into something akin to a regional rally. “We may go back to one; we may go to more than three; we don’t know yet,” she noted, concerning Good Sam’s future plans.
As usual, the weather was warm in Louisville, but not as bad as in 2010 when crowds wilted under the oppressive heat. The inside venue for the more than 350 vendors and 400 RVs on display proved “very appealing and tended to negate the heat factor,” Bray said. OEMs, such as Newmar Corp. and Tiffin Motorhomes Inc., reported good sales at the event, as did Camping World, Bray noted.
On-site activities included hundreds of informative expert seminars, a veteran’s parade, guided tours to area sites and performances by Sheryl Crow, Burt Bacharach, the Gatlin Brothers and an Elvis impersonator.
The Louisville Rally also featured some new twists with Food Network Chef Bob Blumer conducting several cooking demonstrations during the “Good Sam Culinary Experience.” “It worked out well. They had really good attendance and participation,” Bray said. “People were really into it. Camping World ended up selling a lot of cooking equipment tailored for RVers.”
The Rally also staged a first-ever “Bark Park” for RVers who travel with their dogs. The fenced-in facility allowed owners to exercise or run around with their dogs. And, for the first time, RVers were allowed to bring their dogs inside the Kentucky Exposition Center. The rally also featured a dog show and pet adoptions through the Louisville Humane Society.
The final Rally for 2012 will be held in November at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
Hundreds of motorhomes are filling the empty lot next to the Mill Casino and Hotel Thursday (June 21) in Coos Bay, Ore., as the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) Northwest Area Rally gets under way. The show runs through Sunday.
As reported by the Coos Bay World, its members refer to trips out of their vehicles as “shore excursions” and to the car they tow behind as a “dinghy.” So it’s surprising that FMCA has never yet held its Northwest Area Rally here on the shores of Coos Bay.
But that’s happening this weekend, bringing 1,000 RV enthusiasts to the area.
They’ll have opportunities to tour local attractions, see a movie in the Marshfield High School auditorium, see the bay with Betty Kay Charters, golf at Bandon Crossings, roar around the dunes with Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV and feast at a Coquille Indian salmon bake.
Although those activities are available only to the association’s members, the public is welcome to visit the RV show. To learn more about the Family Motor Coach Association, visit www.fmcanw.org/.
Editor’s Note: The following New York Times article, authored by contributor Andy Isaacson, chronicles his first trip behind the wheel of an RV. Isaacson and friends rented a motorhome from Cruise America and headed out for an RV rally in Oregon. To view the entire piece along with accompanying photos click here.
I have spent the night in a Walmart parking lot. I have driven through a national park with a trail of cars in my rearview mirror. I have learned how to dispose of my waste through a plastic hose, and I have filled my gas tank more times in one week than I thought was possible.
But this is to be expected when you’re driving a small studio apartment, or, as I began to call it, my “rig.” One man in a rural California border town even called it cute. He said it reminded him of a Doritos delivery truck.
The rig was a 19-foot-long, gleaming white, class-C motor home — an RV that I rented from Cruise America, the country’s largest recreational vehicle rental company; 800-RV-4RENT was prominently emblazoned across the exterior, as were colorful images of America’s national parks and natural patrimony.
It was a proverbial flag patch sewn on a backpack, and as someone who makes an effort to downplay the fact that I’m a tourist when I travel, this granted no disguise. And just as well: I had never driven an RV before, and for this I could say I had never experienced my own country as millions do every summer, and have for more than a century.
When I booked the RV online a couple of months earlier, I found myself signing up for not so much a mode of transportation as a set of desirable feelings. “With a Cruise America RV,” the Web site said, “you can roam wherever your spirit takes you, throughout the US and Canada. And with a full kitchen in your RV, you can skip out on endless drive-through menus and enjoy more satisfying meals and snacks.” Roam, spirit, satisfying meals: these are not the sort of words used to tout a rental car or an airplane seat. An RV road trip promised the distinction of freedom and flexibility, comfort and convenience: a travel experience unencumbered by the need for reservations.
To view the entire article click here.