There was really no doubt about the breathtaking beauty of the sweeping green landscape around Minot, N.D., not all that far south of the Canadian border.
And there was no mistaking the cordial ambiance of the area people who hosted the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) 74th International Convention, Aug. 15-18 at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds in Minot.
But whether it was the fuel-price effect or the nature of the location – most observers think it was the latter – FMCA’s latest convention came up a bit short on attendance, tallying 3,035 family member coaches and about a thousand commercial units on hand for displays and test drives for a grand total of 4,038 rigs.
“It was a nice convention, a little smaller than normal, but the enthusiasm of the folks that were there was outstanding,” reports Jerry Yeatts, director of conventions and commercial services for the 130,000-member organization. “The folks and the facilities in Minot were wonderful. The community was extremely supportive. I just think that Minot is not necessarily a destination for people. It’s not a location where people need to go, like central Oregon or one of the Canadian provinces, and I think that was probably indicative of the numbers we had. It’s quite a beautiful area, but it’s away from everything.”
Otherwise, said Yeatts, things went smoothly, with rain on Monday night and Tuesday morning giving way to moderate, pleasant weather – a welcome relief from the Midwest swelter that had prevailed for much of the summer.
“Other than that,” added Yeatts, “it was ideal weather for a rally. We’ve had some mixed reviews from our exhibitors, with some saying it was the best sales yet and others saying that it was average. But I think, given the fact that our family member numbers were down, those that said that their sales were average were more than likely pleased.”
FMCA’s next national member event, its 75th, will be Mar. 20-23 at the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., while its second national convention for next year will be Aug. 14 to 17 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.