In mid-August Redmond, Oregon, became the backdrop for FMCA’s 72nd International Convention.
By Robbin Gould
On August 16, 17, 18, and 19, Redmond, Oregon, played an accommodating host to thousands of FMCA members who gathered in their motorhomes to participate in the “Cascade Mountain Magic” convention, the association’s 72nd International Convention. The city of approximately 17,450 nearly doubled in size as FMCAers enjoyed four days of seminars, exhibits, entertainment, and that special brand of RV fellowship on the grounds of the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.
For some FMCA members, it was a return trip. Many had visited the city in August 2001 for FMCA’s “Redmond Rendezvous” convention. This second time around, the official count for the “Cascade Mountain Magic” convention was tallied at 4,912, a figure composed of 3,803 family coaches and 1,109 commercial coaches. It ranked as FMCA’s 16th-largest convention “” albeit not as sizable as the 2001 gathering in Redmond, which attracted 5,331 family and exhibit coaches.
The Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center resembled a small city in itself once the convention was under way. In fact, an article published in the Redmond Spokesman newspaper likened the transformed fairgrounds to the mythical town of Brigadoon, made famous by a musical of the same name. FMCA international conventions take place twice a year, of course, not every 100 years, as that fabled town was said to materialize. Nonetheless, the article dubbed the “Cascade Mountain Magic” convention grounds “Brigadoon in the Desert,” as it was complete with neighborhoods (family parking areas); a commercial district (exhibits); entertainment; restaurants; mass transit (trams, golf carts); designated areas for civic functions, such as administration, emergency services, and child care; a map of the convention “city”; and a program “the size of a telephone book.”
FMCA president R.G. Wilson, F21025, noted in a letter that appeared in the convention program, “We hope you will feel the ‘Magic’ while you are here with your FMCA family.” The fairgrounds’ location on the western edge of Oregon’s High Desert country, within view of majestic, snowcapped mountains, seemed an appealing spot for enchanting moments to unfold.
Seminars, Exhibits, Entertainment
Convention attendees availed themselves of 173-plus hours of informative seminars that encompassed 103 topics in 124 sessions. On the technical side, discussions of motorhome chassis maintenance, diesel engines, and RV satellite systems shared the seminar slate with presentations about supplemental braking, inverters, and towing a vehicle behind a motorhome. Nontechnical seminars focused on such topics as digital photography, microwave-convection cooking, RVing to Mexico, fine jewelry, and relationship challenges for RVers. During a fashion show, participants modeled easy-care garments, while FMCAers in craft seminars created such “fashions” as fabric Christmas cards, silk sun catchers, and T-shirts emblazoned with silk roses and lace. Health-related topics helped attendees to learn more about their back, knees, shoulders, and heart, and to glean tips on managing diabetes. In addition, an orientation for first-time convention attendees; discussions of FMCA member benefits; presentations by FMCA’s Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee and Risk Management Committee; and seminars for FMCA chapter secretaries, treasurers, and national directors, among others, proved educational.
As at past conventions and area rallies, a number of safety-related seminars attracted FMCA members’ interest. Among them, the RV Safe Driving Course, cosponsored by RV Alliance America, C95, an FMCA Super Star sponsor, and FMCA, drew more interested attendees than space would allow. The six-hour course covered various aspects of safe driving, including a segment aimed at women who want to become more comfortable driving a motorhome. RVAA and FMCA also teamed up for a seminar titled “Fire & Life Safety In Your RV,” presented by Mac McCoy, C7648, a 30-year fire-fighting veteran.
The RV Safety Education Foundation, C5999, again presented the “RV Weight & Tire Safety” seminar, which focuses on loading and operating a motorhome safely, including an understanding of radial tires.
Of course, what would an FMCA convention be without its hallmark display of indoor and outdoor exhibits? More than 800 exhibit coaches filled three outdoor display areas on the grounds of the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. Type A, B, and C coaches representing dozens of manufacturers and models shared the spotlight with numerous custom coach conversions. “Class C Lane,” a special display area designated for type B and type C coaches, beckoned folks who were looking to downsize their motorhome, or those with friends or relatives who were thinking of joining the motorhome lifestyle.
The “Exhibit Express,” a special tram route, transported passengers from the outdoor exhibits to the indoor supplier exhibits. Approximately 450 booths overflowed with all manner of RV-related products: engines, RV furniture, kitchen accessories, cleaning items, vent fans, awnings, scooters, appliances “” even FMCA logo merchandise.
The evening entertainment program, which commenced at 5:30 p.m. each day at the Deschutes Event Center arena, included a lineup of fabulous acts. The melodic variety took FMCA audiences down a different memory lane each night.
On Monday music from the Betty Berger Big Band filled the air, presented compliments of Alpine Recreation, C9932, an FMCA One Star sponsor, and FMCA.
On Tuesday evening Steve Lippia, Doug Starks, and Rick Michel recalled the heyday of the “Rat Pack” by impersonating Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin, respectively. Their show, titled “Frank, Sammy & Dean – Hear and Now,” was made possible by Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111, an FMCA Five Star sponsor, and FMCA.
Wednesday evening brought one of the original “teen idols” to the FMCA stage: Frankie Avalon. Tanned and ever-youthful, he had audience members swaying and singing along to his hits and those of countless other entertainers. Frankie performed compliments of Outdoor Resorts of America, C402, an FMCA Five Star sponsor, and FMCA.
On Thursday evening the audience enjoyed a double dose of rich harmonies presented by The Brothers Four and The Kingston Trio, two legendary bands of the folk era. They appeared thanks to Pioneer Electronics, C9420, an FMCA Super Star sponsor, and FMCA.
Daytime entertainers included a host of perennial convention favorites, a return act from the 2001 Redmond convention, and brand-new crowd-pleasers. The first category included Howard Cowles, L18517, the “singing square dance caller,” who provided FMCA members with expert instruction in square dancing and line dancing, as he has done for more than 35 years. He appeared courtesy of Coach-Net, C4055, and Fan-Tastic Vent, Corporation, C3077, FMCA One Star sponsors, and FMCA.
The ever-popular Frustrated Maestros, composed of members from FMCA’s nine Frustrated Maestros chapters, appeared at the Foretravel Daytime Entertainment Stage on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. Each performance seemed to fly by as the group played an eclectic mix of solos and group songs, both instrumental and vocal tunes. Patriotism flowed during singing of the Canadian and U.S. national anthems; audience members stood at rapt attention during these numbers.
Bob’s Cats, a select group of Frustrated Maestros musicians, performed Dixieland and old-time favorites on Wednesday afternoon.
Willie & Company, the popular ventriloquism act, returned to the daytime stage courtesy of Freightliner Custom Chassis, C1905, an FMCA Four Star sponsor. Ventriloquist Peggy Miller and her sidekicks Willie and Great Granny Gardner provided several performances imbued with rib-tickling humor. And speaking of humor, Flakey the Magic Clown (known to some as Henry Gartner, F197563) once again entertained kids of all ages with his hilarious one-liners, visual gags, and nonstop patter. He performed courtesy of Blue Ox, C2903, an FMCA Two Star sponsor.
Numerous other daytime acts appeared in Redmond courtesy of National City, C10057, an FMCA Super Star sponsor, and FMCA. Providing an encore performance from the 2001 Redmond convention, the Michelle Van Handel Quartet quelled the Wednesday afternoon heat with a selection of jazz music. Vocalist/keyboardist Matt Jenkins showed his mastery of a variety of musical genres, including country and western, rock ‘n’ roll, swing, samba, and Latin tunes “” with a bit of humor thrown in. Bernie & Red, a hilarious husband-and-wife duo, set forth with an act full of parody songs, humorous stories, and original comedy tunes. Sunshine Exchange, a Redmond-based dance group composed of both adults and children, demonstrated the art of clogging. The Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association, District 3, put their bows to work, playing many toe-tapping favorites in a variety of fiddling styles. Last but not least, certified hypnotherapist Lawrence Miller placed willing participants under his “spell” in an entertaining performance.
Meetings, Activities, And Special Events
The Governing Board convened on Monday for the purpose of conducting official association business. During the meeting, four national officers were elected to represent FMCA for the 2004-2005 term: R.G. Wilson, F21025, president; Don Moore, F154921, senior vice president; Ginger Painter, F23514, secretary; and Jim Kern, F63208, treasurer.
These officers were installed during the FMCA Annual Membership Meeting on Thursday morning, along with the association’s 10 area vice presidents, who had been elected previously via mail ballot. During this meeting R.G. Wilson recognized outgoing Executive Board members, as well as Jeff Jefcoat, L118344, immediate past national president, and outgoing TATS (Teen-Age Travelers) officers. The audience listened to the treasurer’s and president’s reports and to the Youth Program report delivered by Melissa Carlson, F301017, newly elected TATS president. Engraved watches were presented to Vern and Ann Moore, F215195, in recognition of their recruiting 100 members to the association. Special participation awards also were drawn and distributed to 10 lucky winners in attendance.
FMCA’s Area Gatherings took place on Wednesday afternoon. Nine of these gatherings were held simultaneously, enabling FMCA members to meet with fellow members who live in their geographical area. The International Area, which represents special-interest chapters, held its gathering earlier in the afternoon.
All business aside, several fun-filled events titillated members’ taste buds during the “Cascade Mountain Magic” convention. Each morning from 7:00 to 9:00, FMCAers made their way to the Daytime Entertainment Stage for a convention tradition: Coffee Hour, presented by FMCA and Guaranty RV Center, C4161, an FMCA Super Star sponsor. Chipper volunteers “” “morning people,” no doubt “” dispensed hot coffee, chocolate, doughnuts, and sugar-free cookies, some singing along and sashaying to music performed by the Frustrated Maestros. Crisp, sun-drenched mornings encouraged the crowds to gather each day for this popular pastime. Some folks likely arrived at coffee hour after participating in morning devotions or Roman Catholic Mass each day. Others opted for the early-morning exercise sessions: an integrated stretch and strength workout presented each day by fitness instructors Wayne and Dahelia Hunt, F235156.
A midday treat on Wednesday reprised another FMCA convention institution, the Ice Cream Social, presented through the generosity of RV Alliance America, C95. Volunteers clad in white RVAA aprons “” including members of the Full Timers chapter, joined by FMCA Executive Board members and their spouses “” speedily dispensed ice cream sandwiches to the queues of attendees.
The women seen wearing purple dresses and red hats on Thursday afternoon weren’t exactly making a fashion statement . . . or were they? Armed with their favorite teacups, they indulged in a Red Hat Tea, FMCA’s own version of a Red Hat Society gathering. The roots of the Red Hat Society can be traced to a poem titled “Warning,” by Jenny Joseph, in which the writer muses, “When I am an old woman … I shall wear purple with a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me … But maybe I ought to go practice a little now?” Gathering for tea and refreshments proved enjoyable for the ladies who adopted this fun philosophy in Redmond.
“Take Pride in America”
Convention-goers were given the opportunity to learn about Take Pride in America, a national volunteerism program, by two individuals closely allied with the effort.
Take Pride in America is a national partnership established by the U.S. Department of the Interior that aims to invite, support, and recognize volunteers who work to improve our public parks, forests, grasslands, reservoirs, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, local playgrounds, and other recreation areas. With 100 charter partners, including FMCA, Take Pride involves federal, state, and local government; conservation, youth, and recreation groups; and national corporations and organizations.
Michelle Cangelosi, the program’s director of government and community relations, conducted a seminar for FMCA members on Thursday during which she outlined the focus of the Take Pride program.
On Thursday afternoon, Gale A. Norton, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, arrived at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in a 2005 Monaco Dynasty motorhome, subsequent to a tour of Monaco Coach Corporation’s manufacturing facilities in Coburg, Oregon. She was accompanied by Marti Allbright, executive director of the Take Pride in America program; David J. Humphreys, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association; and Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition.
Secretary Norton and her entourage enjoyed a brief tour of the indoor and outdoor motorhome exhibits. She then met with Congressman Greg Walden, who represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon. Afterward Secretary Norton spoke briefly with members of the press before being greeted by FMCA president R.G. Wilson, who escorted her and the other guests into the Deschutes Event Center. Mr. Wilson introduced these dignitaries to the audience before Thursday’s evening entertainment program.
The secretary spoke to FMCA members about the current status of the Department of the Interior’s activities; the Take Pride in America program; and how FMCA members can become involved in the Take Pride effort.
Countless opportunities for exploration presented themselves to FMCAers during the convention. Optional sight-seeing tours included treks to view the Newberry Monument and Volcano, and the scenic Cascade Lakes Highway. Tour-goers also enjoyed sampling local concoctions at the Deschutes Brewery. Lunch excursions included the Crooked River Mystery Train; the Crooked River Great Train Robbery; and the Diamond “B” Chuck Wagon & Western Dinner Show.
Various chapter meetings and socials took place during the convention, ranging from informal get-togethers, on-grounds meals, and off-site gatherings at local restaurants to chapter business meetings and formation meetings for new chapters.
A fun and varied Youth Activities Program engaged more than 100 youngsters ages 2 through 18, giving them an opportunity for fellowship and fun with their respective age groups.
FMCA members made donations for future Habitat for Humanity house “builds” at a convention booth staffed by members of the FMCA Chapter: Habitat for Humanity®. After the convention Habitat chapter members were scheduled to participate in builds in both Redmond and Bend, Oregon.
On Wednesday evening, prior to the start of evening entertainment, Mike Rapp of E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation, C4076, presented FMCA with a check for $22,050. This donation is to be divided among the association’s “Round Up” charitable organizations: Good Will-Hinckley Homes for Boys and Girls; Habitat for Humanity International; the National Center on Family Homelessness; and ProLiteracy Worldwide. E*Trade Consumer Finance Corporation contributes to these programs each time an FMCA member chooses to refinance through the company. The “Round-Up” campaign invites FMCA members to “round up” their membership dues and/or make a donation to one or more of these organizations.
Quilt donation also has become a convention tradition. The FMCA On-Road Quilters, a group of individuals who gather at FMCA conventions to share their love for quilting, collected 94 children’s quilts during the Redmond conclave. These “Quilts For Kids” were displayed on Thursday during the convention. Afterward they were donated to the Central Oregon Battering and Rape Alliance.
Finally, used eyeglasses were collected for the Lions’ Foundation Eyeglass Program, which helps to ensure that needy people are able to enjoy the benefits of vision correction.
More than 1,000 FMCA members volunteered their time, talents, and skills before and during the “Cascade Mountain Magic” convention. They assisted in many areas: coffee hour, computer help desk, Frustrated Maestros entertainment, greeting, handicapped area, handicapped and activity trams, Information Center, merchandise, parking, security, seminars, trams, and the youth program, as well as those with “flexible” duties.
Obviously, a gathering the magnitude of the Redmond convention would not be possible without the work of so many. So, Redmond volunteers, one and all, we salute you!
The “Cascade Mountain Magic” Convention was made possible by the generous support of our “Star” sponsors.
Super Star Sponsors
Guaranty RV Center, C4161
National City, C10057
Pioneer Electronics, C9420
RV Alliance America, C95
Five Star Sponsors
Buddy Gregg Motor Homes, C3326
Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111
Outdoor Resorts of America, C402
Workhorse Custom Chassis, C8291
Four Star Sponsor
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., C1905
Three Star Sponsor
Ford Motor Company, C405
Two Star Sponsors
Blue Ox, C2903
Coach Connect, C9772
E*Trade Consumer Finance Corp., C4076
Foretravel Inc., C236
North Dakota State Fair, C9318
One Star Sponsors
Alpine Recreation, C9932
Armor Shield, C10148
Coach Net, C4055
Fan-Tastic Vent Corp., C3077
Hale Expo Services, C974