By Don Moore, F154921
As you read this, summer will be just about over, and we’ll be looking forward to fall. FMCA still has two area rallies to go this year “” the South Central Area Rally, September 26 through 29 in Beaumont, Texas, and the Rocky Mountain Ramble, October 11 through 14 in Casa Grande, Arizona.
A number of area rallies take place throughout the year. Each event is one of a kind, but they all have elements in common. Many motorhomers enjoy the fact that area rallies are smaller, compared to international conventions.
This year the number of members attending area rallies has been down, most likely because of fuel prices. In May the Executive Board discussed the idea of having fewer area rallies, and whether doing so would improve attendance. Some area leaders indicated that they are willing to consider the idea of getting together with other areas to hold regional rallies, and others were not interested, for various reasons. We will give this more serious consideration at our next meeting.
When I wrote last month’s column, my wife, Darlene, and I were traveling from the Northwest Area Rally in Albany, Oregon, to Henry, Illinois, for the Midwest Area Rally. Henry is a small river town with a great location for the rally: the Marshall-Putnam Fairgrounds.
This is what I call “my” area, because I served for four years as Midwest Area vice president. Darlene and I have fond memories of the area and made many lasting friendships there. We thought of this rally as a homecoming, because we were able to see so many of our FMCA friends while conducting FMCA business.
We were content to enjoy the rally and let Midwest Area vice president Nelson K. Stubbs, F107765, and his wife, Janet, be in charge. Each morning breakfast was well attended, with the Frustrated Maestros Midwest Noteables providing the wake-’em-up music each day, as well as music for opening ceremonies.
A Red Hat Tea was attended by 105 ladies all dressed in purple attire with a red hat, practicing for when they get old. Mary McLain, F174907, presented a program about the Orphan Train.
The Chapter Fair on Saturday drew a nice-sized crowd. Chapter Fairs have become a vital asset to FMCA area rallies and international conventions in the past few years, for they give folks the chance to visit with chapter representatives to learn more about their groups. Non-members can find out what exists in their area, and if there is not a chapter in their vicinity, they may wish to join some friends in forming a chapter of their own.
The Caterpillar factory tour was very popular again this year. Two tour buses holding a total of 110 people headed out for the tour, and more would have gone had there been space.
The automated external defibrillator (AED) class was filled to capacity, as was the CPR course. The Midwest Area was the first area to offer these classes during its rally. FMCA pays a portion of the cost of these programs as part of its focus on education.
We enjoyed four nights of great entertainment, starting with the Caterpillar Employees Big Band. Thursday evening entertainment brought a performance by Dave & Daphne, a singing duo from Nashville, Tennessee. Friday evening we saw Barnaby, a master juggler and comedian, and on Saturday night, Brenda Byers and The Neighbors Four.
We had typical Illinois summer weather during the rally “” heat with a little rain “” but everyone seemed to enjoy the activities.
We must all remember that if we don’t have volunteers, we don’t have area rallies or international conventions. Volunteers are our most valuable assets, and many of them worked in various capacities during the Midwest Area Rally.
From Henry we traveled to Gillette, Wyoming, for the International Area (INTO) Rally, held June 30 through July 3. We really enjoyed the full hookups, because it was very hot. It’s extremely difficult for volunteers to work in this type of weather, but they were real troupers and did their assigned jobs.
Most of the activities were inside an air-conditioned building at the Cam-Plex Multi-Event Facilities. We were served a great breakfast each morning to get us started for the day. The Frustrated Maestros entertained everyone during the morning meal.
There were several seminars to attend, plus vendors and outdoor coach displays to visit. Bingo took place on Friday night, with a top prize game netting $500. And the Red Hat Luncheon for the women was well-attended and included entertainment and door prizes.
A Block Party/Chapter Fair was held on Saturday, July 1, during which International Area chapters displayed info to help non-chapter members learn more about them. Refreshments were served, and entertainment was provided by Jack and Doreen Ingle, F251132, along with several participants doing line dancing, the Texas two-step, and other moves.
Attendees also enjoyed an ice cream social, and some competition games, such as bean-bag toss and bean-bag baseball. Many attendees participated, and the winners were announced at entertainment. Speaking of entertainment, there were three nights of it, all very good.
The opening ceremonies Saturday evening were followed by “Hands in Harmony,” a very impressive group of young people ages 4 through 19 from Cheyenne, Wyoming, who combined music and signing for the deaf with prerecorded sound tracks and dance. They created a total entertainment package that was a treat for audience members of all ages. They speak and sing with their hands for those who hear with their eyes. On Sunday evening, David Levesque, a comedian and musician who proved to be the Victor Borge of the violin, performed. Monday evening Jack Reid and The Razor City Wranglers, a group from Gillette, took the stage.
After that rally, we headed for our home in Illinois. Darlene and I were happy to get home, because we had not been there since May 1.
By the time you read this, I hope we will have met you at FMCA’s “Fast Track To Fun” convention in Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina. Don’t forget that just because summer is over, it doesn’t mean the rallies stop. Check to see whether you can fit a fall rally into your schedule, and maybe Darlene and I will see you there. Happy trails.