As we have run into other full-timers during our travels, one of the first questions we’ve been asked has been “Have you been to Perry yet?” That is to the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) International Convention and RV Expo held in Perry, GA at the Georgia National Fairgrounds. When registrations for the rally opened in October we were in the planning stages for our trip back to PA and the timing fit perfectly so we signed up, not knowing exactly what we were getting into. Plus on the registration form they had a box to check if you wanted to volunteer. We said what the heck, we like being involved, so why not? Little did we know that we had just committed to spending a fabulous week being charmed by the FMCA staff and volunteers. Now we know why everyone was so emphatic that we should attend this rally.
Being a volunteer meant that we had to be in Perry three days before the start of the festivities so we made some changes to our schedule and arrived at the fairgrounds on Monday along with a long line of other RV’s. In the end they ended up with almost 3000 coaches and towables; 6000 people of which 822 were volunteers and almost a 1000 of which were first-timers just like us. Our week began with a First Timers Meet and Greet, a First Timers Orientation and Volunteer Training.
We were assigned to work with the security volunteers and our first assignment, prior to the opening of the rally, was to stand guard at the door of the vendor hall checking ID badges to only allow the vendors in to set up their booths.
We only had to work 3 – two hour shifts, one each day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday leaving lots of free time to go to seminars and entertainment. Our second shift was at the outdoor RV vendor displays where they had over 100 RV’s for people to buy. This duty shift was a little more challenging as the show was opening in the middle of our shift which meant we had to keep people out until the opening bell. Our last shift was standing at the clock tower in the middle of the fairgrounds directing traffic and answering questions. This was probably the most fun duty as we were able to joke around quite a bit.
Rally Rush Hour – Yeah right, We’re suppose to direct this traffic??
We attended a wide range of seminars – both educational and fun – everything you need to know to take care of the RV and live life on the road. Joanna started each day at early morning exercises learning how to stay fit while traveling. Jon attended Tire Knowledge, Solar Power & RV’s, Top 10 Maintenance Tips Every RVer Should Know, and All About AquaHot systems. We both found the seminars on Human Trafficking, Full Time RVing, Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda – Things We Wish We had Known, RV Disaster Corp, Tread Lightly, Choosing a Home Base, and a Police K-9 Demonstration informational.
There was entertainment night and day and we tried to get into as many as would fit in our schedule – Thomas Michael Riley, Ah Surely Irish band, Big Mike and the Booty Papas, The Grapevine, the fabulous Macon Pops, and last but certainly not least the hilarious Jeanne Robertson.
Line Dancing to The Grapevine
Happy St Patrick’d Day
In between the seminars and entertainment we shopped the vendor hall and walked through a lot of the new RV’s. As always we found lots of gadgets to buy and we were able to sign up for much needed vendor services. One of the biggest bonuses to these rallies are that the vendors will do service right on the fairgrounds. We were able to get our AquaHot rebuilt (YEAH!! We have hot water again!) by Master RV Tech as well as getting our coach weighed so that we can adjust the weight as necessary.
One fun rally activity was hunting for Sheldons, bookmarks with the picture of Sheldon the turtle. You got $5 in Rally Bucks (good at almost all of the vendors) when you turned in a card. The reward for Joanna walking to early morning exercise at 8:00 am each morning was she was able to spot a LOT of Sheldons!! We had been given extra Rally Bucks as volunteers so by the time we were ready to go shopping we had collected $75 worth of the bucks!! And Joanna had no trouble spending it all!!!
Socialization is one of the biggest draws of the rallies, especially for those of us that are full-time RVers. The FMCAers have to be one of the friendliest groups in the RV community. We were warmly welcomed by everyone. As the RVs are so closely parked to fit everyone in you get to know your neighbors pretty quickly. We had been given the tip that when you set up your outside chairs to be sure to put up more than two so that people feel free to sit and chat. We did a bit of an experiment by first putting out only two and we had people say hello as they passed but no one stayed long. The next day we put out four chairs to encourage people to sit and join in conversation – and it works! Within in minutes our neighbor came and sat with us for a nice long chat.
All in all the rally was a wonderful experience and one we will repeat. Now we will be that full-timer telling everyone “Ya gotta go to Perry!!”
Next up will be our pilgrimage to Red Bay to get some warranty work done on Shadowfax.