By CHERI ILG HAAS
Amidst the hills of Kentucky thrives an FMCA chapter whose name calls to mind the Bluegrass State’s equine heritage. The KY. Horse Shu Kru’s geographical scope encompasses Lexington and the surrounding heart of bluegrass country.
KY. Horse Shu Kru rallies are laid-back. As the sun gently sets and cardinals quiet down for the evening, members relax around a campfire to share stories and country music. But the tunes generally don’t come from a radio, for a few musicians in the chapter play ukulele, dulcimer, and keyboard. Although the chapter’s rallies are not rigidly structured, some activities are planned. “We just leave it up to the host,” explained chapter president Donald Charles, F169741.
Kentucky weather permits a long rally season for this chapter, which meets monthly beginning in the beautiful April spring through the colorful fall display in October. The fun typically begins on Friday evening as the chapter goes out for dinner. On Saturday members hold a meeting and wrap up the day with a potluck. “We never tell anybody what to bring; it’s always just worked out great,” Donald said. And if specific activities aren’t scheduled, “[we] just sit around and enjoy everybody’s company. If somebody has a problem with their motorhome, we help each other out.”
The rallies generally are held within a 200-mile radius of Lexington. The chapter has rallied in Kentucky’s capitol of Frankfort, in Bardstown and Berea, and also has visited Mammoth Cave National Park. One can see that the KY. Horse Shu Kru always has an interesting place to gather.
A popular rally several years ago featured a Christmas in July celebration and was held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Members decorated their coaches in the holiday spirit, Santa Claus made a special visit, and candy was distributed to the children. One member even dressed up as an elf and rode around the park in a golf cart driven by park rangers. Donald said this was his favorite rally yet, and that it also was the best attended. Although it isn’t a yearly rally theme, the chapter will again celebrate Christmas in July this year. In December the KY. Horse Shu Kru holds a Christmas party to celebrate the holiday, but it’s usually a smaller gathering, because many members are snowbirds.
During the Kentucky Derby each May, several chapter members get together and tailgate, although it isn’t an official rally. Last year the occupants in six to seven coaches attended, and Donald said it’s looking to be bigger this year. When the horses have finished racing, and most fans are making their exit in the endless line of cars, KY. Horse Shu Kru members simply pull out their grills and continue the fun, since they’re already “home.”
“We feel like we’ve got a good group,” Donald said. “We have a lot of fun.”
Donald and his wife, Brenda, have been chapter members since 1996, and Brenda served as chapter president for three years. “Everybody’s so close to each other. It’s a family. We do everything together. If one of us is doing something, everybody’s doing it,” Donald said.
Since being chartered in November 1985, the chapter hasn’t changed all that much over the years. “It’s always been geared the same way. We’re finding that we’re getting younger people all the time,” Donald said.
New members are always welcome. Last May the chapter held a special rally to increase its membership. FMCA’s Chapter Services Department sent letters to non-chapter members in the area to invite them to the “Country Time Rally” at the Oh! Kentucky Campground in Berea. As a result, approximately 25 members joined, including some that couldn’t make it to the rally but signed up anyway. Fellow FMCA members in the Kentuckiana chapter came to support their efforts, and for entertainment, a square dance caller Nashville, Tennessee, was on hand to get everyone moving.
For more information about the KY. Horse Shu Kru, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (800) 543-3622.