Cotton is grown in many parts of Texas, but nowhere as much as near Lubbock, which is sometimes called “the world’s largest cotton patch.” In 2003 it was estimated that farmers in a 20-county area around the West Texas town planted 3.2 million acres of the fluffy fiber. So it was only fitting that when a chapter was formed for FMCA members in the Lubbock area, it took on a cottony name.
Marolyn Rinne, F296715, secretary and newsletter editor for the Cotton Country Travelers and wife of chapter president Al Rinne, said that Gary Simmons, F316138, a Lubbock resident, got the ball rolling for the chapter’s creation. He began work to form the group after returning home from FMCA’s 71st International Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in March 2004. “We didn’t have one in the Lubbock area,” she explained, “and he didn’t see any reason why we shouldn’t.” The chapter was subsequently formed in May 2004, and Gary currently serves as the chapter’s alternate national director.
The Rinnes live in Slaton, a few miles southeast of Lubbock. Marolyn was quick to add that some chapter members live in the general area, not exactly within the Lubbock city limits. It’s an inclusive group, indeed. West Texas is full of friendly people, and that’s what Marolyn said distinguishes the chapter most. “We do our best to make everybody feel welcome. A very open bunch of people with a lot of different interests; a really nice group who love to have people visit us.”
The chapter is looking to add to its numbers and to get more participation at rallies. Al said that they had 14 motorhomes at the chapter’s first rally, and that was the biggest. Ten families gathered last November for a chili cookoff festival in Terlingua, Texas.
The chapter is still relatively new, so it’s still finding its niche with members. “That’s what we’re working toward,” Marolyn said. “A lot of our members are in other clubs, and some of our people still work. But we have some who are pretty active, so it just varies.” She also said that several couples in the chapter head south for the winter, so rallies during the cool-weather months have lower attendance.
Chapter members who did get together this past March for a rally in Lubbock enjoyed a pizza lunch and gained some technical expertise as well. Camper Coaches RVs, a Lubbock dealership, invited the chapter members to an open house. Members strolled around the dealer’s indoor showrooms and learned new maintenance tips as well.
“Their service manager stayed and did a question-and-answer period,” Marolyn said. “We did a maintenance workshop. He answered any question anybody had.” Some of the topics included winterization and general maintenance “” info that often is offered at seminars at larger rallies.
The April rally was planned to be held at a bluegrass music jamboree at Oakdale Park in Glen Rose, a little town south of Forth Worth. The jamboree includes four days of entertainment at a campground “” a popular event. And the meet for May will be a social gathering at a local restaurant.
In June, the chapter is heading to Fort Griffin State Park near the town of Albany for an outdoor musical called the “Fort Griffin Fandangle,” performed at the Prairie Theater. Other rallies and events will keep chapter members having fun year-round.
Marolyn said that during months when the chapter doesn’t hold a rally, it has a social. Socials involve a meal, “either a potluck or we get together someplace and eat together.” Members have a short meeting, if they have any business to take care of. “Last year and this year we had officer meetings to try and schedule out the year and get organized,” she said.
But the overall chapter goal remains: “The purpose of forming the chapter was to have fun,” Marolyn said.
Currently the chapter has 36 member families. Dues are $15 per year, with a $25 additional fee the first year for name badges. For more information about the chapter, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at the FMCA office at (800) 543-3622.