By Connie Pool, F140306, National President
One of my favorite “duties” as FMCA president is attending the various area rallies held throughout the year. Since I have fewer responsibilities and commitments at an area rally than I do at an international convention, these rallies allow me more opportunities to visit with members and talk with them about FMCA. Corbett and I try to visit all of the area rallies each year so we can get a firsthand understanding of the successes and challenges of the various areas.
The first area rally I attended after being elected FMCA president was the Midwest Area Rally in Manchester, Iowa, September 12 through 16. The Delaware County Fairgrounds was in excellent shape, and 30-amp electric was provided for all who attended. The schedule of events and seminars was full, with something for everyone. Two of the most popular seminars were the MEDEX Plus program and the FMCA Member Benefits presentation. Both were very informative, and there was considerable discussion related to many excellent questions asked.
Each morning started with a hot breakfast or pastries. A variety of entertainment took place in the evening, and judging by the reaction of the audience, all had a great time.
One of the more interesting parts of attending an area rally is experiencing the local community. Manchester rolled out the red carpet for FMCA members. Each business and restaurant welcomed members with open arms, and many offered special discounts. A visit to the local Fareway grocery store was well worth the effort. While the store wasn’t that big, it had a large meat counter with a variety of sausages and special cuts of meat reflecting the area’s heritage. All the employees were more than helpful in explaining the varieties they carried and wanted their FMCA visitors to enjoy their local specialties. Other meat markets in the area advertised packages of local products they will ship anywhere in the country. We purchased some of the products and, unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to try them until after we left the area. It was one of those times when we realized too late how good they were and wished we had purchased a lot more.
At the end of September (25 through 28), the South Central Area held its 34th annual rally in Sedalia, Missouri, at the Missouri State Fairgrounds. All the members attending this rally also were provided with full hookups. The fairgrounds had many unique and historical buildings with plenty of room for all the indoor vendors, seminars, and the evening entertainment. The rally started with a “block party” at the coach displays. It was great to see the huge turnout with so many members touring the coaches and checking out the many new features each had to offer. The following three mornings began with coffee hour and a hot breakfast or pastries to start the busy day. Afterward, members spent time visiting the indoor vendors, attending the wide selection of seminars, returning to the coach displays, and then enjoying some of the best entertainment.
The members of the South Central Area do something very nice for the local community where they hold their rallies. As has been their custom, the South Central Area members donated 365 “” yes, 365 “” homemade quilts to the community of Sedalia. The quilts will be distributed in a variety of ways, benefiting nursing home residents, children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect, and military veterans, for instance. An additional 60 quilts were brought to the rally to be taken to Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
If your travels take you near Sedalia, I recommend that you stop for a visit. The people are great, and the town has an extensive history with the railroad industry. We were also fortunate to visit a local Catholic church that had been renovated recently. The beautiful architecture and artifacts are not to be missed.
The final area rally for the 2007 calendar year was the Rocky Mountain Ramble, held in Farmington, New Mexico, October 3 through 6. Farmington is located near the Four Corners area, which is where the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah come together. The San Juan County Fairgrounds has plenty of flat land for parking, electrical hookups for most rally attendees, and the added bonus of a casino located on the grounds.
Approximately 40 percent of the members at the Ramble were “first time” attendees. They were all invited to attend the First Timers’ Seminar, and at the conclusion of the seminar, music was playing across the way to direct attendees to the “Chapter Fiesta” (fair). Many of the area’s chapters had their tables decorated in ways that exhibited the fun activities they enjoy. The Fiesta had standing room only, and it was fertile recruiting grounds for the chapters; many gained new members.
The Ramble offered a very competitive beanbag baseball tournament. It was great to see so many participants get into the real spirit of things. The winners received gold, silver, or bronze medals. Some individuals took a great deal of pride in their accomplishment and wore their medal for the rest of the day.
Corbett and I enjoy attending all the area rallies. Although they share some similarities, each area rally is unique with its schedule of activities, food provided, and, of course, the geographic location. The best part of any area rally is meeting with all our members and participating with them in the many events and activities scheduled. The area rallies provide another opportunity for all to enjoy a major FMCA benefit “” fellowship with other motorhome owners.
Corbett and I wish you all a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year. Safe travels, and may all your travels be trouble-free.