Although we have been members of FMCA (Family Motorcoach Association) since we first began RV’ing in 2010, we had never attended an FMCA rally before. It seems that the timing has always been wrong or we weren’t near the location of the rally. But this year everything was in alignment – both the dates (March 7th through March 10th) and the location (Chandler, AZ) worked for us. Plus after having such a great time in Quartzsite, how could we resist another fun opportunity to join 24 other Entegra Coach Owners Association (ECOA) members (including several couples we had met at the rally in Quartzsite) at the “Rally in the Valley”.
We were instructed by the Wagonmaster, Doug French of the Entegra group to arrive at the Rawhide Western Town & Event Center in Chandler, AZ. by 10:00 a.m. on March 6th, which wouldn’t be a problem since we were staying only a half hour away at the Wild West RV Resort. Although we wouldn’t have water or sewer at the rally, we would have 30 amp electrical power provided by huge generators in the parking lot. Very impressive how quickly and efficiently the volunteers managed to get our group moved from the holding area and situated in our “sites”. I think we were settled in within an hour. Quite different than what we experienced last year at the Tampa RV Supershow where we waited over three hours in the hot sun waiting to be parked!
What a neat place to hold a rally! The Rawhide Western Town is a replica of a western town complete with a Steakhouse Restaurant and Saloon, a blacksmith shop, a General Store, Sweet Sally’s Candy Shop, Magirks Toy Store, a Photo Emporium and a Town Jail. During the rally, although the restaurant was closed and used for seminars, the stores were open. On the weekend, the Town was open to the public so they could enjoy the town attractions such as the Six Gun Theater, wagon rides, etc.
For those of you who have never been to an FMCA rally, there are a lot of seminars and activities happening. Coffee and donuts were served each morning for those people (not us) who were up and about early (7:00 – 9:30 a.m.). Over 100 seminars were offered in 10 different halls/tents, ranging in subject matter from engine/generator and chassis maintenance, to fire safety and fire emergency exiting procedures, to cooking and cleaning your coach, to technology for travelers and much more!
Dealers, hoping to sway first time buyers to loosen their purse strings and tempt existing RV’ers to upgrade were there in full force displaying numerous models of RVs (Entegra, Tiffin, Newmar, etc.). National Indoor RV Center (NIRVC – where we bought our coach) was there with about 10 Entegra coaches. Then of course, housed in a huge building were hundreds of exhibitors selling all sorts of RV paraphenalia and accessories as well as club memberships to organizations such as Passport America, Harvest Hosts, etc. and resort/campground stay enticements. At night (if you still had any energy left, which we didn’t) were shows featuring performances by country/western singers and a comedian.
Not sure if other coach manufacturers do this or not, but Joyce Skinner, Director of Customer Service, as well as Mary, Service Advisor from Middlebury, IN visited each Entegra coach to talk to each owner to ascertain a list of three top issues that their techs could fix during the show. Over the course of the show, a team of Entegra techs was then dispatched each day to resolve those issues. We had several minor issues that were fixed while we were there.
Shortly before the rally, Brett Davis, owner of National Indoor RV Centers (NIRVC), had announced that Tadd Jenkins, a former executive at Entegra, would be the new President of National Indoor RV Centers, along with Shaun Huxford as the new Chief of Operations. On Monday night, March 7th, Brett hosted a reception for Tadd and Shaun inviting Entegra owners and Newmar owners at a local restaurant, Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill. Two free drinks per person, chips, salsa and a buffet of appetizers including Grilled Shrimp & Guacamole Tostada Bites and Smoked Chicken Quesadillas. Great seeing Brett and Tadd again. Sure was a fun evening!
What a busy week! Good thing there were buses/trams running every 15 minutes (although they sure did kick up a lot of dust) as it was a pretty good hike from where we were parked to where the exhibits and seminars were being held. Especially good when the temps soared close to 90 degrees towards the end of the week! And boy was it busy! Each day the exhibition hall was packed so we quickly determined it was best to either get there first thing in the morning or go late in the day.
According to FMCA, the official “Rally In The Valley” coach count was 2,627 with an additional 354 commercial coaches. Imagine that many motorhomes parked in one place! Although they have numerous rallies throughout the year, this was the largest FMCA convention since Perry, Georgia in March, 2011! No wonder it was so crowded!
Besides attending a few of the seminars, we made the rounds in the exhibitor area, bought a few items and of course enjoyed the camaraderie of the other owners each evening during happy hour and a pot luck dinner.
Have to admit though, by the time Saturday came around, we were ready to escape all the dust to hit the road again. Our next destination would be a “Grand” adventure, can you guess where we’re going?