RV rallys can be small or spectacularly huge. FMA's 88th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase in Gillette Wyoming, in June 2013 was one of the big ones. There were more than 2,300 coaches, 5,000-plus RVers and several hundred other vendors, dealers and exhibitors. Gillette’s massive 1,100-acre CAM-PLEX exhibition center was jammed with motorhomes literally as far as you could see in any direction.
Big rallies like this are not for everyone. Camping spaces are cramped, with rigs parked just a few feet apart. Smaller RVs like Class B coaches are dwarfed by behemoth-size Class A machines. I found a group of six Roadtreks parked in the dirt off by some rodeo corrals. A handful of others were scattered through the vast complex.
But most folks come to a big RV rally like this for other reasons besides camping. They come because this is where the action is. They come to learn, attend seminars, take organized tours of nearby attractions, enjoy musical shows and entertainment at night and to reconnect with old friends. Many used this western town as a starting spot for trips to nearby National Parks like the Tetons, Yellowstone or Glacier.
The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the FMCA. Older, beautifully restored motorhomes from the early days of RVing were on display.
The CAM-PLEX complex offered pretty much all the amenities you’d want, full hookups, trash pickup and clean bathrooms and showers.
Wi-Fi was widely available, though understandably slow at peak times because so many were using it. Same with BYO Wi-Fi offered through those hot spot cards like Verizon’s Mi-FI (which I use). With so many people now using them and in such a concentrated area as the CAM-PLEX, the cell towers were maxing out in bandwidth during prime time.
This part of Wyoming doesn’t have a lot of trees and when a fierce windstorm whipped up Tuesday evening,dust and dirt blew everywhere. Fortunately, a strong downpour soon followed and the dust was washed off. But winds blew strong most every afternoon. Wednesday was particularly breezy, with some gusts over 40 miles an hour. Flags snapped in the breeze and antennas rattled on roofs. But the rally rallied on. At least there were no bugs. Not in these winds.
Jennifer and I attended several seminars, I taught two of them, we checked out the exhibitors and visited with folks. But we also took day trips every afternoon, unhooking and driving to area attractions.
Thursday night’s entertainment was by the Buckinghams, a popular pop group from the Sixties, who performed their hits and other oldies to the delight of many in the crowd who, 40 years ago, were the one buying their records. The crowd seemed delighted to reconnect with the music from their youth in Gillette.
I could go on and write a lot more words, but pictures tell the story much better. Scroll down to see some photos that hopefully give you an idea of what a big RV event like this is like… click on any one to see it bigger, right click to save to your hard drive: