Get rich in travel experiences by visiting the many attractions awaiting you before and after FMCA’s 93rd Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase in Perry, Georgia.
By Peggy Jordan, Associate Editor
Riches may be good to have, but FMCA members know that some things are priceless. You can’t put a price tag on friendship, or the freedom to travel, or the excitement of discovering new sights in a home on wheels. All this and more will be celebrated at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry, Georgia, in March 2016.
FMCA’s 93rd Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase starts Thursday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. And in honor of the Irish in all of us, the theme is “Find Your Pot Of Gold.” The fun will continue through Sunday, March 20.
This will be the ninth time FMCA members will convene in Perry, a town of 15,000 located in central Georgia. It’s easy to see why we keep returning: the Agricenter is conveniently located along Interstate 75; the facility easily accommodates motorhomers; and the town of Perry welcomes visitors with Southern hospitality.
Find Your Spot
The Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter, known for its iconic clock tower, hosts the Georgia National Fair for 11 days each October. The remainder of the year, it welcomes a variety of competitions, shows, and events. The well-tended facility provides ample room for FMCA seminars, motorhome and component exhibits, and entertainment — some of the things that make for a successful Family Reunion.
One attractive feature at the fairgrounds is its beautiful lake. Another is the Georgia Go Fish Education Center, operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The center’s aquariums and displays enlighten visitors regarding the importance of fish hatcheries and show the types of aquatic habitats in Georgia. If you like, grab your fishing pole and try to catch a resident of the stocked pond outside the facility.
Once you’ve explored the Agricenter and gotten your bearings, it’s time to check out Perry. What’s to see and do? The answer is just across the road from the fairgrounds at the Discover Perry/Perry Welcome Center. How convenient! Stop inside for maps of the area, and to shop for locally made arts and crafts displayed at the Artisan Center, which is housed on-site. If you travel with a canine friend, your pal might like to run for a while at the off-leash dog park located at the welcome center.
Will St. Patrick’s Day make you lucky at a local golf course? If you’d like to find out, you can choose from three in Perry: Cherokee Pines (formerly the Perry Country Club), Houston Lake, and Houston Springs. Other golf courses are located in the vicinity. If you’re a disc golf fan, you’ll want to find Rozar Park, which offers 18 family-friendly holes in Perry.
Shoppers who enjoy finding cool or unusual items will want to head to the little shops downtown in Perry. Interesting spots to eat are everywhere, too. The Oil Lamp Restaurant (478-988-2643) serves home-cooked food, cafeteria-style; it is open for lunch and dinner. The Perfect Pear (478-224-7327) is open for lunch only. Rusty’s Grill & Bar (478-224-7878), Yoder’s Sandwich Shoppe (478-987-2428; lunch only) and The Swanson (478-987-1938) are popular.
A couple of new eateries have opened since FMCA members last convened in Perry. One is Grillmaster (478-218-7427), a barbecue spot that has received great reviews. The other serves dessert only, but nobody seems to mind. It’s called A Couple of Jerks Soda Fountain Shop (478-841-0939). It offers all the old-fashioned treats from days gone by, such as phosphates, shakes, floats, sundaes, and candies. It’s open Thursday through Sunday.
These are only a few of the restaurants in town; the folks at the Perry Welcome Center can give you even more information, so be sure to stop by.
If you dig the past, the Perry Area Historical Society Museum will be an enjoyable stop. Its exhibits include photos, furniture, household goods, and even an antique medical display. The museum is open Tuesday through Thursday, and some Saturdays; call ahead: 478-224-4442.
Find Some Awesome Attractions
If you arrive in Perry early enough, say, March 11 or 12, be aware that bargains will be right alongside the road. Specifically, from Barnesville to Perry to Brunswick, all of U.S. 341 will be one giant yard sale. The Peaches to the Beaches annual sale is more than 200 miles long, lined with everything from household items and clothes to crafts and antiques.
In Fort Valley, a few miles northwest of Perry, are two great places to see:
- Massee Lane Gardens (478-967-2358, www.americancamellias.com) is home of the American Camellia Society. You can walk along several dedicated gardens, and even bring your dog (pets on a leash are welcome). Camellias are evergreen shrubs or trees that bloom in winter; however, some of the varieties here will still be flowering in March. Massee Lane is home to 3,500 camellia plants and 110 different cultivars or species. A greenhouse, a children’s garden, a museum with Boehm porcelain figures, and a gift shop are on the grounds as well. Adult admission is $5; seniors, $4.
- Lane Southern Orchards (478-825-3362, www.lanesouthernorchards.com) will probably be sporting pretty peach blossoms when FMCA members visit in March. At the Roadside Market and Peachtree Café and Bakery, you will be in peach paradise. You can start with a hot Southern-style meal and get peach cobbler, pecan bars, pralines, bread pudding, and more treats all year at the café. The farm grows peaches, pecans, strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Pick some preserves and go back to summer!
A few miles northeast of Perry in Warner Robins is . . .
- X-The Museum of Aviation, a U.S. Air Force museum at Robins Air Force Base (478-926-6870, www.museumofaviation.org). What’s more exciting than a B-17 Flying Fortess? One that you can watch being rebuilt. This past summer, the museum received a B-17 that is in need of restoration. Visitors can see its progress. Also new at the museum is an MRAP (mine resistant ambush protected) vehicle, fresh from service in Afghanistan. Regular exhibits are housed in a main building and two specialized hangars. Anyone who has served in the military since World War II will find something that may bring out some stories! Admission is free.
Macon (Macon-Bibb County CVB, 478-743-3401, www.maconga.org) is only a half hour north of Perry, and it offers plenty to see:
- The International Cherry Blossom Festival (478-330-7050, www.cherryblossom.com) starts a few days after the Family Reunion, on March 23, and continues until April 3. A parade, concerts, a biergarten, food trucks, an art and craft show, a classic car cruise-in, and much more await you.
- The Macon visitors center has displays about local history and hometown musical heroes such as Jason Aldean, Otis Redding, and Little Richard. But the most popular attraction in town may be the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House. The band was formed in Macon in the early 1970s, and a museum at the house they once rented is open for tours (478-741-5551, www.thebighousemuseum.com).
- The new Tubman Museum (478-743-8544, www.tubmanmuseum.com) is the largest museum in the Southeast dedicated to educating people about the art, history, and culture of African Americans. One highlight is the Inventors Gallery, which honors the important inventors and individuals from this region.
- The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is a 43,000-square-foot facility with 3,000 artifacts; you are sure to learn more about high school, collegiate, and Olympic athletes (478-752-1585, www.georgiasportshalloffame.com).
- Ocmulgee National Monument protects Indian mounds created more than 1,000 years ago. The beautiful and fascinating site is along the Ocmulgee River (478-752-8257, www.nps.gov/ocmu). Admission is free.
Andersonville, Plains, and Tifton are south of Perry. The farthest from Perry is Tifton, approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes away. If you will be arriving from the south, you can see these places on your way to the Family Reunion.
- Andersonville National Historic Site (229-924-0343, www.nps.gov/ande) honors prisoners of war from many eras. However, the site itself, 45 minutes southwest of Perry, was home to Camp Sumter, a military prison camp during the Civil War. Nearly 13,000 of the 45,000 soldiers confined there did not make it out alive. The prison site is one of three components to this facility; the other two are the National Prisoner of War Museum and Andersonville National Cemetery. Admission is free.
- Jimmy Carter National Historical Site (229-824-4104, www.nps.gov/jica), in Plains, includes Plains High School as its main visitors center. There you can view a film and museum exhibits and see school rooms that look just as they did when Jimmy and his future wife, Rosalynn, took classes together. The Plains Train Depot, his campaign headquarters, reveals the excitement of the 1976 presidential race. And Carter’s Boyhood Farm provides a fascinating look at how Jimmy’s family lived during the Depression and war years. All sites are open daily except on major holidays, and admission is free.
- The Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village (229-391-5205, www.abac.edu/museum) is near I-75 in Tifton. More than 35 structures have been rebuilt on 95 acres, representing a small town from the late 19th century. Wander among the many buildings along Main Street and see the grist mill, Victorian mansion, blacksmith shop, sawmill, nature center, and a working steam locomotive. Even if you are strapped for time, you can stop for a few minutes at a country store right near the entrance; there, you’ll be able to browse Georgia signature produce such as local preserves, peanuts, and pecans.
FMCA’s ninth gathering in Perry may not produce a literal pot of gold for FMCA members, but it definitely will be worth a ton when it comes to adding experiences, fun, and travel stories to tell. See you there!
Find Area Campgrounds
The following may not be a complete list, so please check your campground directory or the RV Marketplace, found online and in the January and June issues of FMC, for additional listings.
Boland’s Perry Overnight Park
800 Perimeter Road
Perry, GA 31069
Crossroads Travel Park
1513 Sam Nunn Blvd.
Perry, GA 31069
Fair Harbor RV Park
515 Marshallville Road
Perry, GA 31069
Twin Oaks RV Park, C6864*
305 State Route 26 E.
Elko, GA 31025
*FMCA Commercial Member
Find Your Driving Expertise
A Hands-On-Driving Course, powered by the FMCA Academy, will be offered in Perry, Georgia, at the site of FMCA’s Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase. Receive one-on-one instruction in your own motorhome. Instructors include Walter Cannon, executive director of the Recreation Vehicle Safety & Education Foundation (RVSEF), and other driving experts. New motorhome owners, copilots looking for personalized training, and even experienced motorhome drivers are encouraged to attend.
The cost of the driving course is $400 per person. Class size is limited to 50. Before signing up, you must be registered for FMCA’s Family Reunion, held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter, March 17-20. Then, call FMCA at (800) 543-3622 or (513) 474-3622 to enroll in the course, which takes place March 13, 14, and 15.
For more details, see the ad on page 40 of this issue, or call FMCA at one of the numbers above.
Find Fun While Volunteering
FMCA’s 93rd Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase is expected to draw more than 2,000 member families from across North America. They will converge at the Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter for a range of educational opportunities, entertainment, and social activities. To make this possible, FMCA relies on a large group of heroes — volunteers — to provide many of the services needed for a successful event.
If you plan to be in Perry, please consider donating some of your time as a volunteer. Your service will help make the Family Reunion experience better for everyone. Plus, you just might meet some new friends and have a good time in the process.
If you are interested in volunteering, contact Maxine Schremp, volunteer coordinator, at (540) 273-1606; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.