By Don Moore, F154921
FMCA’s Convention Department director Jerry Yeatts, two other staff members, and selected members of the Convention Committee just returned from our planning visit to the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, Georgia. This was our final visit before the 77th FMCA International Convention, which will be held March 19 through 22, 2007.
I am glad to report that the grounds have been greatly improved since FMCA held its last convention there in 2005. The fairgrounds staff promised us change and they have delivered. The improvements are beneficial for them and for FMCA. They really want us to return in March 2007 and for future conventions as well.
These improvements are the result of a community effort. The fairgrounds received appropriations from the state, as well as equipment and cooperation from local governments. The Agricenter authorities have really worked well with everyone to accomplish this. To cut their costs, the employees there performed much of the labor.
The work has resulted in more roads “” approximately 14,000 feet, or 2.65 miles of paved, new roadways in the East and West lots. These roads are 24 feet wide, have 6 inches of gravel base, and are topped with 2 inches of asphalt. Also, two existing entrances were widened and joined to the new roadway. A new South Gate entrance was installed.
In addition to this, approximately 6,500 feet of drainage ditch improvements have been made, creating two detention ponds totaling 6 acres. The approximate cost for improvements was $1.2 million.
Because of these improvements, the tram routes FMCA uses during the convention will run only on hard-surface roads, so there will be no more ruts made by trams in the parking areas, as in the past. Previously, the paths for trams became a muddy mess if any rainfall occurred. Also, the goal is for every motorhome to be parked within 100 yards of a hard-surface road, so that if rains do come, attendees will not have far to go to get to pavement.
The Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter even has a new sign out front, with state-of-the-art advertising capabilities. It was promoting FMCA’s upcoming convention when we were there for our planning visit.
The convention staff is busily making preparations for this March event, and I hope all of you are making plans to join us. The registration form for the convention appears on page 64 of this issue of the magazine and also is available online at FMCA.com/conventions. Those of you who have been to the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter know what a great facility it is and how well it accommodates FMCA’s conventions. We invite the rest of you to come discover what many of your friends already know by attending what we’re calling our “Georgia Jubilee.” This will be FMCA’s fifth visit to this 1,130-acre facility, which not only has an excellent infrastructure (buildings, parking, etc.) to meet our needs but also is beautifully landscaped with fountains, lakes, and gardens.
Some of you may be wondering, “Where is Perry, Georgia?” Perry is a quaint, small town located approximately 25 miles south of Macon. Local residents always serve up a heaping helping of Southern hospitality when FMCA comes to town. The Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter is conveniently located just off Interstate 75. I’m sure many of you snowbirds will be traveling this major north-south artery as you head back north for the warmer months, so why not stop to enjoy some fun and fellowship with your FMCA friends?
The invitation has gone out to our commercial member partners inviting them to take part in the premier showcase of motorhomes and related accessories, supplies, and services. The national office staff is making arrangements for all the wonderful seminars and craft sessions that traditionally take place at an FMCA convention. And we’re lining up some excellent entertainment for the evening and daytime hours. You won’t want to miss the fun.
As you know, we are always looking for places to hold our international conventions. We are open to your ideas. In addition to the requirements outlined on page 10, there are legal issues we must address if we wish to hold a convention at a particular location. Each state has different laws regulating and restricting the sale, and sometimes even the display, of motorhomes by out-of-state dealers and manufacturers. We investigate the laws of each state in order to determine the appropriateness of a location for an international convention.
Following are our convention site specifications. You can keep these in mind if you happen across a location that you think would be good for a future convention. And until next month, happy trails!
Convention Site Specifications
Months Held: Summer “” preferred, July 10 – August 20. Winter “” late February or March (prior to Easter).
Parking Area: Space 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 of 1 million to 1.3 million square feet, or 30 acres of hard or paved surface for motorhome displays.
Indoor Exhibit Hall: Minimum of 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.
Holding Area: Nearby area of at least 20 acres of flat, solid land for use as a pre-convention holding area and/or overflow parking area.
Seminar Rooms: Air-conditioned rooms to be used for 10 concurrent sessions each day of convention with the following occupancies: 1,000 (two rooms); 600 (four rooms); 100 (four rooms); board room for 35-40 people.
Hotel Rooms: A minimum of 1,800 rooms 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 be signed with no attrition clause or with a letter of understanding with generous cut-off date for balance of properties.
Rental Cars: Approximately 200 rental cars must be available in the area.
Offices/Miscellaneous Special Event Space: Numerous smaller offices are needed for staff; president; youth center (four rooms needed together); exhibitor’s lounge; show decorator’s storage and office; etc.
Airport: Major airport should be available within one hour or less of site.
Utilities: On-site sewage dumping area is preferred or on-site pump-out trucks. Electrical hookups, or access to electricity desired.
Campgrounds: Several facilities with approximately 50 to 150 sites each, within a 100-mile radius, for a total of 1,800 sites.
Transportation: Availability of buses (metro, school, or charter) to be utilized for on-site tram service. Open-air trams preferred, but not necessary.
Set-up/Tear-down Schedule: Set up Monday through Monday; show Monday afternoon through Thursday; tear down Friday, with completion by midnight Saturday.
Grounds Exclusivity: Site exclusivity is necessary; any shared days must be negotiated.