By Jeff Jefcoat, F118344
The Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, New York, a suburb of Buffalo, will host FMCA’s 70th International Convention. We have dubbed it the “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” convention. This is a weekend event, scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 18, 19, and 20, 2003. Because this is a peak travel time near a popular tourist destination “” namely, Niagara Falls “” we expect a large turnout.
This turnout will likely include a large number of youths. Approximately 80 youths were preregistered for our Pomona, California, convention last month. In comparison, we are anticipating that 500 or more youngsters may attend the Buffalo event. This is only an estimate, of course, but the FMCA Youth Activities Committee, headed by Corbett and Connie Pool, F140306, is gearing up for the kids. School will be out, and we encourage you to bring your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews “” you get the idea. It will be a trip they will remember and cherish for a lifetime.
More and more as we search for suitable locations for FMCA conventions, we find it necessary to acquire off-site parking to accommodate larger numbers “” and sizes “” of coaches. The Buffalo convention is no exception. There we have arranged for coach parking at the Ralph Wilson Stadium parking lot, in the nearby town of Orchard Park, which will accommodate approximately half of the expected attendees. Ralph Wilson Stadium is the home of the Buffalo Bills. This beautiful facility has a paved surface and is approximately 3 miles from the fairgrounds. FMCA will provide air-conditioned buses to shuttle attendees between the two locations.
Several of the key convention planners “” Charlie Painter, F23514, chief of parking; Bill Gowen, F93847, Northeast Area vice president; R.G. Wilson, F21025, senior vice president and Convention and Rally Committee chairman; Jerry Yeatts, Convention Department director; Don Eversmann, F240000, FMCA executive director; and I “” have made multiple visits to the Buffalo area to help assure a well-planned and well-executed convention. We recommended to the Executive Committee (and they agreed) that we would need to limit attendance in Buffalo to 5,000 family motorhomes. Approximately 2,500 motorhomes can be parked at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and 2,500 family coaches plus 1,000 commercial coaches can be parked at the fairgrounds.
FMCA members who decide to attend the convention after the limit of 5,000 coaches has been reached will need to make their own arrangements for overnight parking but will be able to attend “” and partake of all convention activities “” by purchasing a Passport. They may easily avoid this potential inconvenience by registering early.
Parking at the fairgrounds will be assigned first to advance crew, volunteers, handicapped individuals, national officers, national directors, and alternate national directors. Most others will be parked at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
As most of you know, FMCA was formed by a few dedicated motor coach enthusiasts who met on July 20, 1963, in Hinckley, Maine. On Sunday, July 20, 2003, during the Buffalo convention, we will celebrate FMCA’s 40th anniversary. (For the sake of FMCA history buffs, I should note that the official formation meeting took place on July 21.)
In recognition of this wonderful milestone, which would not have been possible to reach without the support of you, the members, one lucky FMCA member will win a new 2003 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Those eligible for this prize are FMCA members who recruit at least one new member between August 15, 2002, and June 30, 2003. The winner does not need to be present to win, but will be required to take delivery of the car in Buffalo. Other prizes awarded that day will include three $1,000 cash awards and six 14-karat gold motorhome charms. (Contest rules appear on page 22.)
New FMCA members who purchased a membership during that same time period also will automatically be entered in the drawing for one of two great prizes. Creative World Rallies & Caravans, C1350, is donating a 41-day Alaska caravan trip for two in 2004 and a post-Mardi Gras 2004 Caribbean cruise for two. The first winning entry drawn will have the choice of the Alaska caravan or the cruise, and the second will receive the remaining prize.
In addition to these special festivities, the Buffalo convention will have all that FMCA members have come to expect at these gatherings: plenty of new motorhomes and RV-related merchandise; live entertainment; seminars with important information you can use; craft-making sessions; and, most important of all, the opportunity to meet fellow FMCA “family” members. If you have never attended an FMCA convention before, make this your first. We have planned a whopping party in Buffalo, and we hope that you and your family are planning to join us.
Telephone registration for the “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” convention begins April 1. You can register by phone; by mail; or online at www.fmca.com. A mail-in registration form with details appears in this issue of the magazine. Remember, the earlier you register, the better.
New York Offers Prepaid Toll Passes
If you plan to travel to Buffalo, New York, for FMCA’s 70th International Convention this July, you may want to consider purchasing a prepaid toll road pass from E-ZPass. This E-ZPass electronic toll collection system works on the New York State Thruway and on other roads in the Northeast.
Once you are enrolled in the E-ZPass system, you are given an electronic tag that attaches to the windshield of your vehicle. When your vehicle passes through a designated E-ZPass toll lane, the toll is automatically calculated and deducted from your prepaid account. The E-ZPass does not discount your toll on the Thruway; however, it does offer a faster way to go through the toll areas and eliminates the hassle of hunting for change, cash, or tokens each time you pass through the tolls.
The E-ZPass also can be used on the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway (in New Jersey), portions of Interstate 95 (in New England, Delaware, and Maryland), State Route 1 in West Virginia, and several New York Port Authority bridges and tunnels that lead to and from Manhattan. Depending on your personal travel plans, it may be a convenient way for you to pay road tolls.
To learn more about the E-ZPass, or to enroll, phone (800) 333-8655 or visit the E-ZPass Web site, www.e-zpassNY.com. For information about the New York State Thruway and its tolls, visit www.thruway.state.ny.us or phone the Thruway Toll Information line at (518) 436-2805. More E-ZPass information also is available at www.FMCA.com; click on “Conventions,” then Buffalo 2003.