Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000, Executive Director
We occasionally receive inquiries from members who say they are interested in attending an FMCA international convention but are hesitant because they are not familiar with the types of activities that will take place at the event and the services offered.
The following questions and answers pertain to FMCA’s international conventions in a general sense. Additional information and specifics about individual conventions appear on the Convention page at FMCA.com, or feel free to call the FMCA national office at (800) 543-3622 or (513) 474-3622.
Where will we park?
When you register for a convention, you will notice that several different parking options are available, depending on your needs. After you’ve signed up to attend, you will be sent a confirmation packet with various parking credentials. One of the credentials assigns you a window of time to arrive on the grounds to be parked. Generally speaking, if you register early, you should be able to get a spot closer to the action. This isn’t always as simple as it seems, however, and sometimes a member arrives on the grounds and sees parking a little closer, and wonders why he or she can’t park in a certain place. Spaces must be reserved for various groups: volunteers, handicapped, Governing Board, caravans, and those purchasing electric hookups, to name a few. We need to allocate a certain amount of space to handle these groups. We attempt to place registered handicapped families closest to entertainment and seminars. Caravans and volunteers usually take a good chunk of land, as they require parking for anywhere from 300 to 1,000 motorhomes.
Will there be enough electric sites?
As long as you register by the deadline date for electric, you should be able to receive 30-amp electric service. Depending on the location, electric service may be provided by house power or generator. In either case, it is a good idea to have a surge protector with you. We also suggest that you carry along an extension cord for the 30-amp service, just in case the connection is a little farther away.
Are we allowed to run generators 24 hours a day, and, if so, is there a section with a quiet time?
As I mentioned above, several different parking options are available. We do have a full-generator lot where families may run their generators 24 hours a day. We also have a non-generator lot for people who do not wish to have any generators running at all. For general parking (dry camping with no electric), we do permit families to run generators from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
How do we get water to our coach?
We strongly recommend you come to the convention with your motorhome’s water tank full and the gray and black water tanks empty. Sometimes, people get that reversed! As a general rule, we are able to provide a potable water station at each convention.
How do we get rid of waste?
Whenever possible, a dump station is made available on-site. If you need to dump prior to arriving at your final parking spot, just ask the parker to direct you to its location. We also offer roving septic service during the convention; members should sign up at the Information Center if they wish to reserve this service. Prices vary but normally range between $12 and $20.
Are golf carts/small motorcycles/scooters allowed?
The short answer is “yes.” However, certain restrictions exist for motorized vehicles at a convention location. These vehicles may travel around the grounds but generally are not permitted inside the coach display area, the indoor exhibit area, or activity areas such as seminars and coffee hour, because of the number of pedestrians.
What are the pros and cons of different size rallies?
Good question. Every rally and convention has a different personality. FMCA area rallies are normally smaller than international conventions, attracting 200 to 1,400 families, but they also offer seminars, displays, and entertainment, although on a smaller scale.
FMCA international conventions attract between 2,500 and 6,000 families. More recently, the number of families attending has been between 2,500 and 3,500. Major motorhome manufacturers bring coaches for display and, when permitted, for sale. Members will be able to see between 500 and 600 motorhomes on display at the international convention, and an additional 200 or so may be available to take out on test drives.
Approximately 125 seminars are scheduled during an international convention. They fall into such categories as technical (engine, tire, and chassis subjects), health-related (knee and shoulder pain, prostate issues, etc.), educational (computer-related, finance/investments, etc.), and fun (exercise, crafts, etc.).
International convention entertainment includes at least one evening devoted to a nationally known performer. In the past, we have had John Davidson, Mel Tillis, Frankie Avalon, Oak Ridge Boys, Lee Greenwood, Peter Noone, Tony Orlando, Debby Boone, Gatlin Brothers, The Lettermen, and many more. Entertainment for area rallies usually is more local or regional in flavor.
Is there easy access in and out for going to pick up groceries/gas/food/medical supplies?
If you have a towed car, it can be parked right next to your motorhome to make it easy to leave anytime during the day or night. Listed in the convention program are directions to the hospital, pharmacy, grocery store, coin-operated laundry, veterinarian, and urgent care facility. Some convention locations have a convenience-type concession right on the grounds.
Is there food at the convention site?
We try to offer a good variety of food options at the international conventions, but we cannot always please every member. When we have provided healthful choices, people have requested more carnival-type food (hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, etc.). And when we have added more carnival-type food, people have requested more healthful items!
We ask each location to provide some type of restaurant where people may relax and have a variety of food from which to choose.
What are the convention hours?
Days and hours sometimes vary, but, generally, all indoor and coach exhibits are open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We also offer preview hours in the afternoon or evening on the day before the exhibits open.
Seminars normally begin Monday morning, and evening entertainment begins on Sunday, usually with square and line dancing. Monday evening typically features a DJ, and headliner acts appear on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. Evening entertainment usually starts between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., depending on the convention.
Is there medical assistance on-site?
Absolutely. At international conventions, FMCA provides 24-hour coverage beginning on the first parking day (the first day volunteers arrive) until 10:00 a.m. on the day following the convention.
Are there diagrams of the fields or parking areas?
We provide attendees with a grounds map and program in the welcome bag. Maps are also published at FMCA.com under the specific convention.
What are the best routes in and out of the area?
FMCA coordinates routes with local law enforcement agencies to help attendees arrive at the convention site as safely and with as little hassle as possible for them and for the local community. Since we have many groups arriving at the same time (exhibitors, caravans, handicapped, general family members), we develop different routes to reduce the possibility that they will get mixed together. These directions are sent to attendees with the confirmation materials. They are also available at FMCA.com.
Will we have a chance to see the attractions in the surrounding area?
Certainly. FMCA works with a local tour company to put together optional sight-seeing tours that are available right before all the convention activities begin, and a few shorter tours that are offered during the convention. Check FMCA.com or call for details.
I hope I have answered many of your questions. We hope to see you at one of our international conventions soon! The next opportunity comes with the “Bowling Green Bash,” scheduled for July 20 to 23 at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. A registration form appears elsewhere in this magazine and also online at FMCA.com.