Change has come to the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), members of which will meet March 14-17 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga., for their first-ever Southern Homecoming Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase.
Not only has FMCA relabeled its gathering a family reunion instead of a convention — as the association’s national confabs have been called in the past — but also, owners of self-contained towable RVs have been invited to attend the previously all-motorhome event.
That, of course, was a big step for the traditional motorized-only consumer club, and whether the changes are permanent or not, remains to be seen.
”This is more of a reunion,” said Jerry Yeatts, director of shows and commercial services for the Cincinnati, Ohio-based association. ”Convention’ just seemed to us to sound like it’s exclusive for members. We wanted the public to know that it’s more than that. Adding the words ‘motorhome showcase’ shows that it also is a trade show.”
The Southern Reunion will be the first under the direction of FMCA’s new executive director, Bradford Koshland, a veteran of the New Jersey State Police, who most recently was with the Florida Division of Real Estate. Koshland took over on Jan. 1.
FMCA, which will hold its second ”reunion” Aug. 10-13 at the Alliant Center in Madison, Wis., has seen attendance at its conventions decline in attendance in recent years due to the Great Recession.
”Because we have some additional space available, we thought it would be nice to invite our friends who are towable owners to see what FMCA is all about and what our national events are all about,” Yeatts said. ”We don’t know if we will do it in the future. We will evaluate it after Perry and it will depend on space available.”
Three weeks before the ”Southern Reunion,” owners of about 2,500 coaches were registered for the event. Fewer than 20 towable owners have accepted FMCA’s invitation.
”Some of the (towable) folks are former members who have downsized from a motorhome,” Yeatts said. ”We imagine a lot of (towable registrations) will come at the last minute. We have been in contact with the local community and campgrounds in Georgia and northern Florida and sent out e-mail blasts to our members who may have friends who have towables. That’s where we have gotten our biggest response.”
When FMCA last visited Perry in March 2009, 2,774 family coaches were registered.
This year, FMCA has sold out 156,000 square feet of outdoor display space at which manufacturers are expected to exhibit more than 800 new motorhomes. In addition, 400 booths also have been sold out to 300-some vendors offering RV accessories, camping supplies and related products.
In addition, activities will include seminars on a variety of topics related to motorhomes and RV travel, plus local tours and daytime and evening entertainment.
Gate registration is $185 for FMCA members or $235 for non-members, who also will receive a membership. Towable owners attending the event will eceive a one-year subscription to FMCA’s Family Motor Coaching magazine.
The public is invited to attend for $7 a day, with children under 12 and those on active military duty admitted free.
Only one national gathering is scheduled for 2012 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis July 2-5.