By Don Moore, F154921
Senior Vice President
Chairman, Convention Committee
FMCA’s international conventions are a great benefit for our members. For a small fee, members receive a parking space and can enjoy three nights of high-quality entertainment; big band dancing, square dancing, and line dancing; seminars; crafts; a youth program; local tours; morning coffee hour and an ice cream social; and the opportunity to examine wares brought by hundreds of vendors who sell anything that can go in or on a motorhome. We can even buy the new motorhome of our dreams. But to many, the best part of an FMCA convention is the camaraderie of being with thousands of other motorhome enthusiasts.
What does it take to host an FMCA international convention? As FMCA members travel along the highways throughout the United States and Canada, they see wide-open pastures, state and county fairgrounds, racetracks, and military bases. Some members may think that an international convention would fit nicely at such locations. However, it’s not quite that simple to find a convention site that can accommodate 5,000-plus motorhomes. Factors that need to be taken into consideration are ample space for families to park their motorhomes (normally 200 acres); a coach display area (30 acres); a holding area for families (20 acres); a pre-staging area for coach displays (10 acres); an evening entertainment venue that can accommodate approximately 10,000 people; a facility to host our square dance and big band dance; a large reception facility to accommodate up to 1,100 people for dinner; at least 10 seminar rooms of varying sizes, including rooms to accommodate up to 1,000 people; rooms for youth program activities; office space; an information center location; 2,000 vehicle parking spaces for exhibitors; up to 2,000 hotel rooms within 20 to 30 miles for exhibitors; and plenty of parking for the public who visit the convention and displays.
FMCA’s Convention Committee and the Convention Department staff at our national office are continually searching for potential sites for our international conventions. Before we consider the above factors, we must first determine whether the state or municipality is “motorhome friendly” and whether its laws restrict the display or sale of motorhomes by out-of-state manufacturers and dealers.
Jerry Yeatts, director of the Convention Department at our Cincinnati office, is in contact with many convention and tourism bureaus throughout the country during the year, searching for locations that may meet our convention site requirements. If a convention site possesses the necessary requirements for hosting an international convention, then we schedule a site inspection to examine the grounds and the community in which it is located.
FMCA holds two international conventions each year. One convention is planned for late winter or early spring in a warmer climate. The second convention is planned during the summer in a cooler climate. A list of site specifications accompanies this article. If you find a location in your travels that you believe may have the necessary space and facilities required to host an FMCA international convention, please call Jerry Yeatts at the FMCA national office and let him know about it.
I want to thank my Convention Committee for all their input and hard work this past year. The committee consists of Owen Autry, F55048; Charlie Painter, F23514; George Schipper, F17603; Nelson K. Stubbs, F107765; and Tony Vincent, F161584.
Convention Site Specifications
Summer: Preferred: July 10 – August 20
Winter: Late February or March (prior to Easter)
For 5,000 to 7,000 motorhomes (based on 23 motorhomes per acre). This computes to 24,000 to 30,000 cars or 215 to 300 acres.
Outdoor Exhibit Area
Minimum 1 million to 1.3 million square feet or 30 acres of hard or paved surface for motorhome displays.
Indoor Exhibit Hall
Minimum 100,000 to 120,000 square feet or more of air-conditioned space preferred for 500 to 600 10-foot-by-10-foot booths.
Arena or Grandstand
For evening entertainment that will seat approximately 8,000 to 12,000 people. Inside air-conditioned area preferred.
Nearby area of at least 20 acres of flat, solid land for use as a pre-convention holding area and/or overflow parking area.
Air-conditioned rooms to be used for 10 concurrent sessions each day of convention with the following occupancies: 1,000 (2 rooms); 600 (4 rooms); 100 (4 rooms); boardroom for 35-40 people.
A minimum of 1,800 needed in various price ranges within a 30-mile radius. FMCA to sign contract only for host hotel room block (approximately 75 rooms). Contract for non-headquarter properties will only be signed with no attrition clause or with a letter of understanding with generous cut-off date for balance of properties.
Approximately 200 rental cars must be available in the area.
Special Event Space Numerous smaller offices are needed for Staff, President, Youth Center (four rooms needed together), Exhibitors’ Lounge, Show Decorator’s storage and office, etc.
Major airport should be available within one hour or less of site.
On-site sewage dumping area is preferred or on-site pump-out trucks. Electrical hookups or access to electricity desired.
With approximately 50 to 150 sites each, within a 100-mile radius for a total of 1,800 sites.
Availability of buses (metro, school, or charters) to be utilized for on-site tram service. Open-air trams preferred, but not necessary.
Set-Up/Tear Down Schedule
Set up Monday through Sunday; show Monday through Thursday; tear down Friday, with completion by midnight Saturday.
Site exclusivity is necessary; any shared days must be negotiated.