FMCA’s “Minot Magic” convention celebrated 100 gatherings filled with friends, festivities, and fun.
By Robbin Gould, Editor
The late Ken Scott, L63, penned a column for FMCA’s magazine while serving as the association’s first executive director from 1965 to 1977. “Pipe Dreams” often conveyed his hopes for the association to grow and prosper.
When he wrote about FMCA’s July 1976 convention in Centreville, Michigan, Ken recalled the “kaleidoscopic scene” he viewed from his perch high atop the grandstand: “The people continued to arrive, some several thousands. Memories galore crowded my reverie when subtly at first, then with an impact, it became evident that this was no pipe dream! It was the combination of many pipe dreams. . . .”
Ken certainly would have beamed with pride had he attended FMCA’s 100th International Convention and RV Expo, held August 14 through 17, 2019, at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds in Minot. The event theme, “Minot Magic — 100 Times The Fun,” recognized this convention milestone. It also paid tribute to Minot’s “Magic City” nickname, referring to the town’s remarkable growth in its first year of existence.
The Minot convention RV tally came to 1,791, which included 1,608 family RVs and 183 commercial RVs. When adding in passports, family registrations totaled 1,688.
Besides its many traditional convention activities, the Minot gathering paid tribute to FMCA’s treasured convention heritage. Here’s a snapshot of the fun.
The Nostalgia Area led attendees on a walk down FMCA convention memory lane. Display cases were stocked with years of convention programs, clothing, and photographs. Among the garments was a red FMCA jacket worn by former national president Charlie Owens, L44. It was adorned with “hash marks” — each bearing the name of a convention he had attended.
A framed photo of President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, recalled their visit to FMCA’s June 1989 convention in Richmond, Virginia. Continuously running videos brought past conventions to life; they included a recording of the Bush visit, plus The Peaceful Invasion, a movie filmed at the 1973 convention in Du Quoin, Illinois.
And who doesn’t enjoy a good photo opp? Attendees mugged for the camera as they peered through the windshield of the “Minot Magic Express.” This colorful prop re-created the front of a Flxible bus, the model that adorns FMCA’s logo.
In the airy, two-story atrium of the North Dakota Event Center, oversized photographs hung from the rafters, providing many more glimpses of conventions past.
A commemorative program available on site offered a colorful portrayal of the people, events, and traditions associated with FMCA conventions through the years.
“Magic Mile,” Music, And More
More than 100 attendees gathered one morning for the “Magic Mile,” FMCA’s inaugural fun run/walk/ride. At the appointed time, the crowd set off on a one-mile course through the activity areas, either on foot or aboard mobility scooters. Many four-footed friends ambled alongside. Magic Mile participants enjoyed fresh air and exercise while giving back to the community; their entry fees were donated to the North Dakota State Fair Foundation, which funds scholarships for local FFA and 4-H programs.
Meanwhile in the Town Center, red-and-white-clad musicians from FMCA’s Frustrated Maestros chapters entertained attendees at coffee hour, a longtime convention tradition. Folks watched the show, consumed doughnuts and hot beverages, read the daily event newsletter, and socialized with fellow attendees.
The morning of the walk, folks may have been surprised to see a vintage P-51 Mustang fighter conduct a fly-over above the Town Center area. The plane, nicknamed “Little Horse,” came from the aircraft collection at Minot’s Dakota Territory Air Museum.
An American Hero
Speaking of flying. . . . For many attendees, the most anticipated event was Captain “Sully” Sullenberger’s keynote address on Thursday evening. Captain Sullenberger gained worldwide acclaim on January 15, 2009, when he and his crew safely guided US Airways Flight 1549 to an emergency water landing in New York’s frigid Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 people onboard.
A sizable crowd gathered in All Seasons Arena for the captain’s presentation. First, a brief video depicted the tense moments before and during the emergency landing. When Captain Sullenberger appeared on stage, he received a hero’s welcome. In his address, titled “208 Seconds: A Lifetime Of Lessons,” he described the important lessons he has learned throughout his life, including in the military, and as a commercial pilot, that made it possible for him to take immediate and heroic action when called upon. Although he noted that he personally has received many accolades, he gave credit to his entire flight crew.
Captain Sullenberger continues to advocate for safety across all industries. Recently, he served on the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation.
The following evening, sounds from the ’70s reverberated through the arena as The Spinners danced and sang their way through many of their R&B and pop chart-toppers. Remember “I’ll Be Around” and “Rubberband Man”?
On the final evening, a dance party erupted when Soulshine, a Minot favorite, took the stage. Folks boogied to rock, pop, country, and R&B numbers, and slow-danced to mellower tunes. By taking turns on lead vocals, band members created a wide diversity of sounds and styles.
More Dakota Flavor
Other area entertainers included “all-American country girl” Lexi Wyman, who was born and raised in North Dakota. Her kickoff concert on day one of the convention ushered in the opening of the RV Expo exhibits.
Young Daniel Starks from Ryder, North Dakota, demonstrated a stage presence well beyond his years with his guitar playing and rich vocal renditions of gospel tunes and numbers made popular by Johnny Cash, Elvis, and the Beatles.
Missing Lynx, another Minot gem, “linked” seven decades of country, rock, and R&B music re-created by music veterans.
Loading the gates . . . at the post. . . . a-a-a-nd, they’re off! What began as a high school project for Daryl Lies 31 years ago remains a popular act at the annual North Dakota State Fair. Daryl’s Racing Pigs similarly delighted FMCA crowds with their sprints around a track sized specially for them. Some even wore “saddle cloths” for their races.
Although not a local, popular entertainer Peggy Miller returned to the FMCA stage with her ventriloquism act, Willie & Company. Peggy’s 6-year-old sidekick, Willie, hasn’t changed over the years — and is as sassy as ever. The music-comedy show spawned an FMCA chapter, the Willie & Co. Fan Club, in 1992.
Before the convention officially began, 123 RVers attended RV Basics, a 21/2-day course led by industry experts that focused on RV maintenance, operation, safety, and more. Likewise, the more than 30 folks who took advantage of the RV Driving and RV Backing sessions — in their own RVs — received valuable hands-on instruction.
Of the families registered for Minot, 489 were attending an FMCA convention for the first time. The majority seemed to flock to the “first-timers” orientation, where they received tips for maximizing their convention experience. Afterward, all were invited to the FMCA Chapter Fair for an informal meet and greet with chapter representatives.
Learning opportunities continued; 125 seminar topics, not to mention additional FMCA-related discussions, ran throughout the event.
Microwave-convection cooking expert Janet Sadlack began her FMCA seminar career at the 1995 Minot convention. How fitting that the “Minot Magic” gathering would be her last. Happy retirement, Janet!
Approximately 120 companies filled indoor booths; displayed motorhomes and towable RVs inside and out; and staffed component, service, and supplier exhibits. A hearty thanks goes to the 16 companies that sponsored portions of the convention.
Spartan Specialty Chassis debuted its K3 605, a 605-horsepower diesel chassis, whose rails featured a painted American flag design. A luxury bus conversion priced in the seven figures exhibited by Emerald Luxury Coach drew considerable interest from attendees and the local media.
During FMCA’s Whisker Games, Keith Bice received the heartiest audience applause for his goatee, which earned him the coveted “Mr Whiskers” title. Keith beat out two other semifinalists: Timothy Brown, beard category, and Steve Otto, mustache category. Roland Cheramie, overall winner of the inaugural Mr. Whiskers contest at the March 2019 Perry, Georgia, convention, sat on the panel of judges who selected the semifinalists.
Author John Bayer kept ’em laughing during the Minot installment of the FMCA Supersized Book Club. He read passages from 15 Months Of Winter: My Year In North Dakota, his collection of quirky reflections about residing in Crosby, North Dakota, as a Los Angeles transplant. John’s self-deprecating humor and backstories about the people, culture, and cuisine he experienced had folks giggling — and area folks nodding in agreement. “I had absolutely the greatest time today . . . talking to this group of people. So many questions, so many laughs,” John said.
FMCA members who stitch and sew were asked to bring their creations to Minot for the Quilts For Kids exhibit. The goal: 100 items, in honor of FMCA’s 100th convention. Success! Garnetta Mallory, wife of Bill Mallory, national vice president, Eastern Area, presented 97 quilts and 33 knitted and crocheted hats and scarves to the Minot Prairie Quilt Guild for its community service program.
During FMCA’s annual membership meeting, two individuals received recognition for their outstanding contributions. The Kenneth T. Scott Pipe Dreamer Award was presented to Ross Boyer for his tireless work for FMCA. The Robert L. Richter Award, established in memory of FMCA founder Bob Richter, L1, was given to Jeannie Carey, Arkansas Travelers chapter newsletter editor.
More than 700 attendees typically volunteer at FMCA conventions, where they assist with parking, security, seminars, information, etc. FMCA national president Jon Walker recognized their efforts: “Each volunteer category has a specific assignment . . . and when these are combined, they form the work force that allows us all to safely enjoy our conventions and to witness why ‘family’ is such an important word to us. Our convention volunteers are the spirit of FMCA.” Thanks to you all.
100 . . . 101 . . .
With “Minot Magic — 100 Times The Fun” now part of FMCA history, it’s time to look ahead. Registration is open for “Sunsets + Saguaros,” FMCA’s 101st International Convention and RV Expo, to be held March 26 through 29, 2020, at the Pima County Fairgrounds in Tucson, Arizona. See pages 48-50 in this issue; visit FMCA.com; or phone (800) 543-3622 or (513) 474-3622 to learn more.
View additional photos of the “Minot Magic — 100 Times The Fun” convention at FamilyRVingmag.com.
Lost And Found
Did you lose anything during the Minot convention? Contact the FMCA Events staff (513-474-3622, 800-543-3622; firstname.lastname@example.org) to inquire about a missing item or to report any items you may have found.