Type Cs come in all sizes, lengths, and power trains, and most motorhome manufacturers offer one or more models.
Sunny days and starry nights during FMCA’s “Georgia Jubilee” convention gave attendees uninterrupted opportunities for learning, shopping, fellowship, and fun.
By Doug Uhlenbrock
Family Motor Coach Association members who converged at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry for the “Georgia Jubilee” convention, March 19 through 22, 2007, had plenty of reasons to rejoice during their stay. But perhaps the biggest cause for jubilation among attendees was that they were able to enjoy all of the convention activities and not get wet. That’s right; FMCA hosted an event in Georgia and it didn’t rain. Ponchos and slickers, typical attire for a gathering in Perry, hung undisturbed in closets, while sunshine and daytime temperatures in the mid-70s had folks changing out of their long pants and jackets (it was cool in the morning) in favor of shorts and T-shirts. Of course, such terrific weather did deprive attendees of one traditional Perry souvenir: that cherished chunk of red clay that could be found several weeks after the convention wedged up in the coaches’ wheel wells.
FMCA’s 77th International Convention attracted a total of 4,832 motorhomes: 3,822 family coaches (including 1,088 first-timers) and 1,010 exhibitor coaches. While that total doesn’t rank among FMCA’s top 10 conventions in terms of coach count, an unofficial tally of smiling faces would seem to indicate that the “Georgia Jubilee” was one of the most enjoyable gatherings ever staged by the association.
Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter. The “Georgia Jubilee” convention marked FMCA’s fifth visit to this excellent 1,100-acre facility, conveniently located just off Interstate 75 in the heart of Georgia. Besides the easy access this site affords incoming motorhomers, exhibitors, and support staff, the fairgrounds provides the necessary infrastructure required to successfully stage an event of this size. The facility has more than a dozen well-kept buildings that were used for indoor exhibits, seminars, entertainment, and other activities, plus acres upon acres of flat parking space for family and display coaches. Add in several calm, sparkling lakes and a landmark clock tower for visual reference, and you couldn’t ask for a better venue for an FMCA convention.
Since FMCA made its initial visit to Perry in 1996, improvements at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter have become a common occurrence leading up to the next convention, and this time was no different. Attendees found more than 2.5 miles of additional paved roads in the east and west lots; more trams; improved drainage (that thankfully wasn’t needed); and a new electronic display sign at the west gate entrance that can be seen from I-75. The additional roadways served two purposes: to make sure every coach was within 100 yards of a hard-surface road, and to keep the trams from traveling on the grass parking areas.
Let the fun begin. Although the convention didn’t officially kick off until Monday, March 19, the good times for early arrivals began on Sunday night with square, round, and line dancing led by Jack Ingle, F251132, sponsored by Aon Recreation, C95, an FMCA Two Star sponsor. Jack, who has called square dances for more than 20 years and has taught square dancing for more than 12 years, kept accomplished dancers busy with his expert calls while helping novices improve their maneuvers.
On Monday evening attendees had a chance to relive their high school days “” or for some, to experience what Mom and Dad did for fun when they were kids “” during the “Georgia Jubilee” Sock Hop, hosted by Macon disk jockey Kevin Nichols of DKH Entertainment Group, and sponsored by The Hartford, C10420, an FMCA One Star sponsor. Ladies in their poodle skirts whirled about the dance floor to hits from the 1950s and ’60s, while others gyrated to keep a hula hoop spinning. And you wouldn’t believe the size of pink bubbles blown during the bubblegum-blowing contest.
Beginning on Tuesday morning and continuing through the rest of the convention, many in attendance started their days with coffee, hot chocolate, and doughnuts during the traditional Coffee Hour, courtesy of Goodyear Tire & Rubber, C9158, an FMCA Superstar sponsor. During these gatherings, members from FMCA’s 10 Frustrated Maestros chapters entertained the daily crowds with musical favorites.
Time to learn. Invigorated by their early-morning refreshments, attendees set off in all directions to discover more about the motorhoming lifestyle through a variety of seminars. Convention-goers consistently rate FMCA’s educational sessions as one of the primary reasons for attending a convention, and the packed seminar rooms in Perry once again confirmed that members continue to be interested in learning more about their motorhomes.
Safety is always a hot topic among motorhomers, and convention attendees in Perry had the opportunity to sign up for several seminars specifically addressing this subject. Coach operation was covered in two sessions of the “RV Driving Safety Program”; fire safety and alarms were addressed in “Fire & Life Safety in Your RV”; and proper loading and weight concerns were discussed in “RV Weight And Tire Safety.” All three of these seminars were sponsored by the RV Safety & Education Foundation, C5999, an FMCA Three Star sponsor, and FMCA.
Attendees also could find out more about towing a vehicle behind their motorhome; operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting procedures for various systems and equipment in their coach; uses for a computer while traveling; health issues; travel ideas; and much more. And for those who like to create their own decorations or convention keepsakes, more than a dozen different crafts seminars were offered.
Shopping extravaganza. Another significant draw for attendees is being able to find and purchase nearly anything they might need to make their motorhoming experience better. Convention-goers snaked through aisles of merchandise in the indoor exhibit areas, checking out all types of RV-related items. Whether you were looking for a collapsible ladder, a storage solution for your extension cords, a new GPS navigation system, or a cleaning product to bring the original luster back to your coach’s finish, you could find these products and much more offered by the hundreds of FMCA commercial member exhibitors who purchased booth space.
In the coach display area, manufacturer and dealer representatives welcomed folks into the newest 2007 and 2008 motorhome models. More than 550 type A, B, and C motorhomes, and custom bus conversions, in all sizes and price ranges, were on site for inspection, while another 200 or so demo coaches were fueled up and ready to be taken out for test drives.
Besides bringing motorhomes and merchandise to the conventions to show and sell, many FMCA commercial members also have a contingent of service technicians who schedule appointments at attendees’ coaches to resolve problems, install new equipment, or do emergency work. Commercial members also assist FMCA by sponsoring many of the activities and conveniences folks have come to expect during a convention. Thanks to all FMCA commercial members that participated in the Perry convention; we appreciate their continued support of FMCA and their commitment to providing attendees with a true motorhome showcase.
Daytime diversions. With all the learning and looking going on, convention-goers needing a place to unwind with a song or laugh could settle down at one of two entertainment stages in Perry: the Jayco Daytime Entertainment Stage, centrally located among the buildings used for indoor exhibits and seminars; and the Bella Terra RV Resort “Georgia Jubilee” Stage, situated in the coach display area.
The daytime entertainment lineup featured familiar faces such as Flakey the Magic Clown, sponsored by Blue Ox, C2903, an FMCA Three Star sponsor; Willie & Company, courtesy of Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., C1905, an FMCA Five Star sponsor; and Keith Longbotham, all who previously have performed for FMCA convention crowds. Other acts included Johnny Roquemore and the Apostles of Bluegrass; the Special Edition International Dance Show Team; Mike Fuller . . . The Magician; John Haines: The Voice of Elvis; The Kazoobie Kazoo Show with Rick Hubbard; Playin’ Possum; The Claude Hicks Vocal Band; and the Perry High School and Middle School Jazz Bands.
On Wednesday, attendees swarmed the area near the Bella Terra RV Resort “Georgia Jubilee” Stage for a frozen treat at the ever-popular Ice Cream Social, provided by Dempsey & Siders Agency, C11039, an FMCA Five Star sponsor. Special thanks to members of the Full Timers chapter for their ongoing assistance in distributing the ice cream.
Red hats and purple dresses (pink and lavender for those under age 50) were all the rage on Thursday as ladies gussied up for the Red Hat Tea, sponsored by Kiley Mold Company, C7252, an FMCA One Star sponsor. This gathering, FMCA’s version of the Red Hat Society, brings women together to have fun and socialize over light refreshments. The featured entertainment at this convention was Rick Hubbard with the Kazoobie Kazoo show. Kazoobie Kazoos are the official kazoos of the Red Hat Society, and everyone in attendance received a kazoo and was invited to join the performance.
Those interested in seeing more of central Georgia during the convention could sign up for sight-seeing tours of the area, including a trip to Callaway Gardens and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Little White House,” along with the “Peanut Express” train excursion to Plains, home of former President Jimmy Carter.
Evening entertainment. The “Georgia Jubilee” featured three nights of outstanding entertainment, beginning on Tuesday with the Lowe Family, courtesy of Allison Transmission, C4454, an FMCA Five Star sponsor. This talented musical family performed a variety of classical, Broadway, patriotic, and old-time favorite songs to go along with their high-energy dance routines. On Wednesday, attendees were both amused and amazed by the comedy, dance, and acrobatics performed by Zyngara Carnivale Cirque, courtesy of ORA Las Vegas/Motorcoach Country Club, C10274, an FMCA Five Star sponsor. On the final night, the Grammy-award-winning Oak Ridge Boys rolled out their hits, including everybody’s favorite, “Elvira,” thanks to Monaco Coach Corp., C2111, an FMCA Five Star sponsor.
Don’t forget the kids. Forty-three future motorhome owners, ages 2 to 18, signed up for the Youth Program. Besides the daily activities available for the TATS (13-18), PRE-TEENS (10-12), TWEENS (6-9), and TOTS (2-5) at the Youth Center, the kids had other opportunities for fun as well. The older groups went bowling, toured the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, tested their go-cart-driving and miniature-golf abilities at an arcade, and went roller-skating, while the little ones enjoyed a McDonald’s Happy Meal and ice cream. Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as they returned from their outings revealed that a good time was had by all.
FMCA matters. FMCA offers many benefits, but one of the best may be the numerous chapters that operate within the association. These subgroups provide members with the chance to socialize with other folks who share common interests and activities. To help promote even more involvement, a Chapter Fair was held on Monday afternoon with 69 chapters represented. Participants answered questions about their particular group and encouraged members to consider joining an FMCA chapter. A large contingent of first-time convention attendees visited the fair, and early reports from chapters that participated indicated that quite a few joined one or more of these groups.
Also, for the first time, FMCA presented a pair of Open Forum sessions, which allowed members to present ideas to FMCA’s Long-Range & Development Committee for the improvement of the organization. Members offered suggestions about conventions, membership recruitment, member retention, member benefits, and more, which should prove helpful as the association plans for the future.
Leaving something behind. FMCA endeavors to give something back to the communities in which it holds its conventions. In Perry, the official charity for the “Georgia Jubilee” convention was the Perry Volunteer Outreach, a collection point for the community’s local food bank, Loaves and Fishes. Members were asked to donate canned goods or other nonperishable food items to help the area’s needy. Attendees really came through, filling eight shopping carts.
The American Red Cross brought its bloodmobile to Perry on Monday and were overwhelmed with the response, requiring four extra beds to be set up in the Georgia Building to accommodate those wishing to give blood.
The On-Road Quilters created a total of 36 quilts; eight fleece, flannel, and knitted blankets; and two knitted newborn hats for the Quilts For Kids project. The beautiful handmade items were displayed on Thursday in the Information Center and donated to the Crossroads Quilt Guild, which will distribute them to the children’s hospital, area police and fire departments, and shelters for battered women.
Attendees also took the opportunity to donate 86 pairs of used eyeglasses as part of the collection to benefit the Lions’ Foundation Eye Program.
A final thanks. The “Georgia Jubilee” convention could not have been as successful as it was without the help of approximately 800 volunteers who gave of their time and talents in numerous areas. Their assistance made it possible for attendees to enjoy the event in a safe, organized atmosphere. Thanks to all who helped make this a terrific gathering.
Westward bound. FMCA’s next international convention moves to the mountains of Oregon for the “Rediscover Redmond” gathering, which will take place August 13, 14, 15, and 16, 2007, at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. Preparations are well under way for this gathering, which will include entertainment from the Nelson Brothers in the Ricky Nelson Legacy Tour; Debby Boone; and Tony Orlando. So mark your calendar now and make plans to join us for what should be another outstanding FMCA convention.
Perry Lost And Found
Were you separated from any of your belongings during the “Georgia Jubilee” convention? Several items remained unclaimed at the close of the gathering. If you think any of them might be yours, please contact the Convention Department at the FMCA national office “” (800) 543-3622 or via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“¢ Black eyeglass case
“¢ 6 pairs of eyeglasses
“¢ 2 pairs of sunglasses
“¢ Set of 3 keys
“¢ Set of 7 keys
“¢ Set of 8 keys with fob
“¢ Set of 8 keys on blue key ring
“¢ Silver loop earring
“¢ Black beaded earring
“¢ Blue, white, and orange beaded basketball necklace
“¢ Set of 2 tow bar pins
“¢ Two pairs of sandals
“¢ Rescue tape
“¢ Monaco cap
“¢ Rocket Barstools cap
“¢ American Coach flag
“¢ 2 green bowls
“¢ 2 pedometers
“¢ Ladies’ blue hooded sweatshirt
“Georgia Jubilee” Convention Sponsors
FMCA’s 77th International Convention was made possible by generous support from the following sponsors:
Goodyear Tire & Rubber, C9158
Five Star Sponsors
Allison Transmission, C4454
Caterpillar Inc., C4743
Country Coach Inc., C2132
Dempsey & Siders Agency, C11039
Flying J, C5789
Ford Motor Company, C405
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., C1905
Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111
ORA Las Vegas/Motorcoach Country Club, C10274
Three Star Sponsors
Beaudry RV, C902
Blue Ox, C2903
National Interstate Insurance, C7160
RV Safety & Education Foundation, C5999
Two Star Sponsors
Aon Recreation Insurance, C95
Bella Terra RV Resort
GE Money, C4076
Jayco Inc., C9334
One Star Sponsors
ALK Technologies, C9493
Cypress Woods RV Resort/Golden Palms Motorcoach Estates, C7667
Hale Expo Services, C974
The Hartford, C10420
Houston Daily Journal
Kiley Mold Company, C7252