By Jim Koenig, F406483
GLAMARAMA 2013, FMCA’s new area rally hosted by the Great Lakes Area Motorcoach Association (GLAMA), was held at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds in Goshen, Indiana, from September 18 through 22, 2013. Since 1978, the Great Lakes Area Rally, called the Great Lakes Annual Spring Spree (G.L.A.S.S.), was hosted by the Michigan Knights of the Highway. Recently GLAMA leadership recognized that greater involvement was necessary by other area chapters as well. So, organizers decided to present an area rally in which each chapter invested in the rally’s success by taking part in managing the event, doing the work, and enjoying the activities. The plan worked!
In the beginning, it didn’t appear that it would turn out that way. The initial rally site at the Fulton County Fair in Wauseon, Ohio, did not work out, resulting in some nervous times for the planning committee. This issue and others were resolved, thanks to the perseverance of Jon Walker and Jane Roush, then president and senior vice president of GLAMA, respectively. Their positive attitude spread through all communications and discussions at meetings, creating a “can do” attitude and a welcoming atmosphere among members of the rally-planning committee. The goal of greater commitment and involvement by chapters and their members was realized. The rally-planning committee included 19 of the area’s 24 chapters.
To further encourage inclusion of all attendees, Thursday evening was designated a free night for chapters and surrounding coaches to conduct meetings, have potluck dinners, and share time together. Moving about the fairgrounds that evening, one could see that nearly every shelter available for chapter gatherings was buzzing with activity and laughter. Results from GLAMA’s post-rally survey supported the belief that attendees would enjoy a free night of camaraderie.
In addition to the block parties and chapter parties on Thursday evening, card bingo attracted 180 participants. Unfortunately, the square dance, which was scheduled to be outdoors the same night, was cancelled due to wet conditions.
Overall, the weather was beautiful with the exception of Wednesday afternoon, the first official day of the rally. A storm rolled through, producing heavy rain and lightning. But thanks to the great drainage system at the fairgrounds, no motorhomes became stuck and the ground quickly dried. There were 469 registered RVs on site and 50 vendors serving attendees. This was a positive number, as another large RV event took place at the same time in a nearby community where most dealers and vendors were already committed.
Those who attended had many parking options — full generator, 30-amp electric and water, 50-amp electric including full hookup, and 30-amp and 50-amp handicapped spots — along with the opportunity for attendees to park their towed vehicles next to their motorhomes. Participants also had the option to park with a group, whether they arrived by caravan or individually. Feedback from chapter presidents was very positive in regard to this new option.
On Friday afternoon, attendees enjoyed large bowls of ice cream with plenty of toppings during the ice cream social. FMCA national officers in attendance assisted in serving the ice cream. On Saturday morning, a pancake and sausage breakfast was served by Chris Cakes. As hungry rally-goers passed through the serving line, Chris Cakes workers flipped the flapjacks 2 to 6 feet into the air and onto attendees’ plates — well, most of them. Good thing it was all you could eat. Later that day was the Ladies Tea. Guest speaker Genny Jennings, L26, shared 50 years of FMCA memories.
Entertainment on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings was provided by “The Singing Trouper,” Sgt. Daniel Clark; singer and comedian Dane Bailey; vocalist and musician Sarah Getto; and the a cappella doo-wop group Harbor Lights. Attendees were especially captivated by Sarah Getto’s exceptional singing voice.
During this rally, each attendee was given a survey to help organizers determine what folks liked about the event, what they didn’t, and suggestions for future rallies. Nearly half of the attendees completed the survey. George and Laurel Dodrill, members of the Hoosier Cruisers, filled one out and were selected to receive free registration for GLAMARAMA 2014, slated for June 11 through 15, 2014, again at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds. Charles Dilgard also won a prize, donated by Adventure Caravans.
Some recommendations that will be incorporated for GLAMARAMA 2014 include pre-rally Web site publication of craft tools needed for craft events; an improved map for easier reading; and a dynamic list of vendors as they register for the rally. Information about GLAMARAMA 2014 will be updated throughout the year at www.glamaramarally.blogspot.com. We trust these changes, along with other suggestions, will help enhance the GLAMARAMA experience.
Volunteers and entertainers also were asked to provide some of their thoughts about RV rallies in general. Melanie Boyer worked the registration area and said that being part of any organization requires that you contribute your time to make it successful. Bob Moenart said he signed up to be on the parking crew, because he felt his efforts would make a difference for others and himself. Shirley Dingman, another member of the registration team, stated that volunteering allows people to give their time while getting to know others, which helps to build trust and create friendships.
Entertainer Sarah Getto, who performed on Friday night, offered her views on RV life and FMCA rallies. Besides making a living entertaining at rallies, Sarah enjoys building relationships with rally leaders, vendors and the many folks she meets. Her philosophy is, “If you stay in your closet the whole time you won’t have any fun. If you get out, meet people, and do what you’re supposed to do at rallies, they’re really fun.”
The great times expressed by so many through the survey, and the comments from volunteers and others, show that RVers do have fun, but it takes action on the part of many. Participate by volunteering in whatever capacity you can. When you are a part of an organization, invest in its success. It’s what you do!