Motorhomers enjoyed a late-February sojourn in Pomona, California, as they participated in FMCA’s 79th International Convention.
By Robbin Gould, Editor
In the late 1840s, as news of California gold strikes swept across the United States, enthusiastic travelers rushed westward, lured by the dream of seemingly unlimited fortune and fame. In late February 2008, motorhome owners made their way to Pomona, California, on a new quest: fun and fellowship at FMCA’s 79th International Convention, officially named “Rush To The Golden State.”
Of course, the means of conveyance for these modern-day travelers was swifter and infinitely more comfortable than that of the erstwhile gold-seekers. Arriving in Pomona, the RVers encountered a lush, springlike oasis punctuated by blooming flowers and trees and backdropped by snowcapped mountains. Chilly, rainy weather ceased just as the convention began. The result: baby-blue skies “” and spring fever for some “” on the official convention days, February 25 through 28.
This gathering marked the sixth FMCA convention to be held in Pomona; previous conventions took place in the city in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006. All of these conclaves have taken place at Fairplex, a 543-acre complex located approximately 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. This facility is home of the famous L.A. County Fair, as well as 500-some other events each year.
The official coach count for the “Rush To The Golden State” convention was 3,213. This figure included 2,332 family coaches and 881 commercial coaches. Although the event didn’t set a new attendance record, convention-goers enjoyed a smooth-running operation and a wide variety of activities.
Attendees’ to-do lists were long. Many kept busy participating in seminars, exploring the indoor and outdoor exhibits, and settling in for daytime and evening entertainment. Of course, countless opportunities for meeting up with old friends and making new acquaintances presented themselves as well.
Coffee Hour served as a special meeting place on the mornings of February 26, 27, and 28. Energetic volunteers dispensed doughnuts and sugar-free cookies to attendees and kept the coffee and hot chocolate flowing. Folks munched on their Krispy Kremes while listening to music served up by FMCA’s Frustrated Maestros, composed of members from many of FMCA’s 10 Frustrated Maestros chapters.
In lieu of Coffee Hour, other folks chose the daily morning workouts led by Wayne and Dahelia Hunt, F235156, longtime health, wellness, and fitness educators.
In quest of learning
From the association’s earliest days, FMCA members have considered information exchange a priority. During the 1960s, much of the talk focused on how to operate, maintain, and modify their “house cars,” as members’ motorhomes were called back then. Fast-forward to 2008, and Pomona convention-goers learned about modern chassis maintenance, satellite TV, hydronic heating systems, refrigeration basics, and RV charging systems, among myriad other technical topics. The seminar docket also included presentations related to other subjects motorhomers find interesting: health and wellness; computer use and software; travel destinations; cooking; crafts; fire safety; and RV-lifestyle topics such as full-timing and dry camping. Association-related sessions covered such subjects as FMCA member benefits and rally planning. In all, 137 seminar sessions were offered.
The exhibit experience
omona convention-goers strolled through the outdoor exhibit areas, inspecting close to 700 motorhomes on display. These ran the gamut from type Bs and Cs, many based on the popular new Sprinter chassis, to gas-powered and diesel-powered type A motorhomes encompassing a variety of styles, sizes, and price ranges. And who wasn’t wowed by the sky’s-the-limit custom bus conversions?
Indoors in two exhibit buildings, nearly 230 companies displayed all manner of RV accessories, components, and home products, while others provided information about resorts, insurance, financial services, and more.
FMCAers visiting the outdoor exhibit area likely got a glimpse of a motorhome integral to the association’s early history: a 1950 Flxible Visicoach. This vehicle, owned by David Rosique, F166345, is a close likeness of the motorhome that graces FMCA’s oval “goose egg” logo. Mr. Rosique’s coach was converted in 1969 by a man whose company worked on Howard Hughes’ famed “Spruce Goose” aircraft. Parked next to the modern-day coaches on display, the Flxible served as a striking reminder of how much motorhomes have changed over the years. Jim and Ginny Holifield, L387, who have owned four Flxibles themselves and were instrumental in forming FMCA’s California chapter back in 1965, greeted folks who stopped by for a look at the coach, happy to share their own stories of the early days of motorhoming.
Song and dance
Convention attendees were given ample opportunity to enjoy music of all types. On Sunday evening, February 24, early arrivals were invited to swing their partner, do-si-do, and step to a variety of square, round, and line dances led by veteran caller Jack Ingle. On Monday night, a good old-fashioned sock hop had folks gyrating to tunes from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. On Tuesday night the focus switched to two of the most popular bands of the 1970s and ’80s as a pair of tribute acts shared the stage: Stayin’ Alive chronicled the sensational career of the Bee Gees by performing a selection of the group’s most famous ballads and disco hits, followed by ABBAMania, which played many of the smash hits made famous by the internationally acclaimed band ABBA.
On Wednesday evening, Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone played to a wildly enthusiastic crowd. Dancing, singing, T-shirt-wearing fans enjoyed the music from this 1960s-era group, and many held their illuminated cell phones in the air, reminiscent of a similar concert practice using cigarette lighters. On Thursday night, country music lovers thrilled to the tunes of the Bellamy Brothers, one of the top country duos of all time.
During the daytime hours, nearly every musical genre seemed to be represented. These included classic rock performed by The Ravelers; bluegrass stylized by Distant Cousins; the golden age of jazz celebrated by Kate Harris & The Jazz Kats; and Broadway and big band classics set forth by the Karyn Overstreet Broadway & Tour Experience. Guitarist Miguel Rivera performed a wide selection of Latin melodies, including tunes by Jose Feliciano and Carlos Santana. The Top-Notch Quartet delighted the crowd with its barbershop melodies, while One Way Ticket got things rocking with hits from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and other groups. Singer-guitarist Keith Longbotham, a veteran of several FMCA conventions and area rallies, returned as part of a musical trio.
Convention attendees interested in checking out area attractions could avail themselves of numerous optional sight-seeing tours. Presidential-themed excursions included treks to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Air Force One Pavilion, and to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum, combined with a visit to the Crystal Cathedral. Other tours took in the J. Paul Getty Center and Museum, and highlights of Los Angeles and Hollywood. Pirate- and medieval-themed dinner shows appealed to some FMCAers’ sense of adventure as well.
A small contingent of youngsters who attended the convention participated in FMCA’s youth program. The program offers specific activities for children in four age groups: TATS (Teen-Age Travelers), ages 13-18; PRE-TEENS, ages 10-12; TWEENS, ages 6-9; and TOTS, ages 2-5. The older kids went bowling and visited a family fun center with an arcade and other amusements; the younger crowd enjoyed an ice cream party, a Happy Meal lunch, and pint-sized fun and games. Flakey the Magic Clown “” Henry Gartner, F197563 “” entertained the kids in their youth centers. (Flakey also was spotted showing off his zany magic to adult “kids” around the grounds.)
During Monday’s Chapter Fair, representatives from more than 60 FMCA chapters set up tables to answer questions about their groups, sign up new members, and socialize, of course. This event was a great way for non-chapter members to become acquainted with some of the association’s chapters who welcome newcomers to their ranks.
Convention attendees took a break to participate in Wednesday afternoon’s Ice Cream Social. Who says ice cream is just for kids? As folks enjoyed this frosty treat, a select group of Frustrated Maestros performers known as Bob’s Cats filled the air with an assortment of Dixieland music and other peppy tunes.
The perennially popular Red Hat Tea has become another convention staple. This event is FMCA’s own version of the Red Hat Society, a women’s group that takes a lighthearted look at aging. Those over 50 wear red hats and purple attire (those under age 50 don lavender and pink). FMCA women showed their colors Thursday, the day they met for an afternoon get-together filled with refreshments and laughter.
A wine tasting conducted by a representative of WineStyles, located in nearby Claremont, California, offered participants a selection of six vintages and provided information about each. In addition, bingo sessions conducted by ambassadors from the local La Verne Chamber of Commerce gave players the chance to win cash and other prizes.
Quilting enthusiasts and others who appreciate the craft perused a special collection of children’s quilts and handmade blankets on Thursday. The items in this “Quilts For Kids” exhibit were created by the On-Road Quilters, a group of FMCA members who gather at the association’s conventions to discuss quilting and share their creations with one another. After the Pomona convention the group’s quilts were given to area children by the Nite Owls Quilt Guild, a local organization that donates to various agencies in San Bernardino County, California. The On-Road Quilters created 31 quilts, 12 blankets, and four crocheted newborn hats for donation.
Convention-goers also showed their penchant for giving back to the communities they visit by participating in a blood drive coordinated by the local American Red Cross, and by dropping off used eyeglasses for the Lions’ Foundation Eye Program. In addition, FMCA Chapter: Habitat For Humanity®, whose members participate in construction builds around the country to help families in need of a new dwelling and a second chance, provided information about Habitat for Humanity and future builds.
As always, another large group deserves mention: the hundreds of FMCA members who came early, stayed late, or somehow helped make the “Rush To The Golden State” convention possible. Our hats are off to the approximately 800 volunteers who worked in various areas: coffee hour, computer help desk, FMCA Store, Frustrated Maestros, greeters, handicapped and activity golf carts, information, security, seminars, trams, and youth program. Thanks also to the advance crew and parking layout crew for their hard work.
See you in St. Paul …
Plans are well under way for FMCA’s next grand gathering: the association’s 80th International Convention, themed “Navigate To The North Star State,” July 14-17, 2008, at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Bring the kids and grandkids, plus your motorhoming friends, to this midsummer celebration in America’s heartland!
Were you separated from any of your belongings during the “Rush To The Golden State” convention? The following 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: [email protected].
Ladies black glove
Red and black jacket
Red Marathon Coach cap
2 gold loop earrings
1 purple beaded earring
Black umbrella cover
4 keys with fob
Key ring with key
1 single key
2 keys on ring #528
2 pairs of eyeglasses
1 pair of prescription eyeglasses in blue case
2 pairs of sunglasses
Cat eyeglass holder
Floral seat cushion
Navy blue chair cushion
FMCA’s “Rush To The Golden State” convention was made possible in part by generous support from these commercial sponsors:
Goodyear Tire & Rubber, C9158
Roadmaster Inc., C2952
Five Star Sponsors
American Coach, C985 & C8084
Country Coach Inc., C2132
Ford Commercial Truck, C405
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., C1905
ORA Las Vegas/Motorcoach Country Club, C10274
The Vineyards Motor Coach Resort, C9327
Four Star Sponsor
National Interstate Insurance Co., C7160
Three Star Sponsors
Aon Recreation Insurance, C95
Monaco Coach Corporation, C2111
RV Safety & Education Foundation, C5999
Two Star Sponsors
Blue Ox, C2903
GE Money, C4076
Winnebago Industries Inc., C95
One Star Sponsors
Hale Expo Services, C94
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Kiley Mold Co., C7252
Livingston Cellars, C11402