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The Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) Midwest Area Rally has attracted the owners of around 450 motorhomes to the Freeborn County Fairgrounds in Albert Lea, Minn., according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.
The event continues through Saturday (July 17).
Traffic backed up to the main thoroughfare of the Southern Minnesota city as the motorhomes “lumbered into town,” the newspaper reported.
“Row after row, they jammed into the 45-acre campgrounds and jockeyed for the best spots.”
FMCA members attended seminars, compared stories of life on the open road and gawked at new motorhomes that were for sale and “priced in the neighborhood of a nice home in the suburbs,” according to the Star Tribune.
Seminar topics range from the best uses for Velcro to spotting Medicare fraud and how to use e-mail while on the road. The more than 50 vendors at the rally are trying to entice the motorhome crowd with everything from updated appliances to guided fantasy RV tours.
Kurt Leier, manager of Capital RV Center in Bismarck, N.D., said he usually sells six to 10 motorhomes per rally. Sometimes after Leier sells a rig, the new owners park their coaches side-by-side and move their possessions from their old coach into the new one, he told the Star Tribune.
The FMCA, based in Cincinnati, has about 129,000 families as members. It hosts two international rallies each year. Each of the 10 major chapters also holds a regional rally.
Its next international rally will be Aug. 17-19 in Redmond, Ore.
The FMCA’s Midwest Area includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Last year’s FMCA Midwest rally was in Elkhorn, Wis.
This week is the first time Albert Lea is playing host to the rally, and travelers were expected to pump as much as $100,000 into the city’s economy, according to the Albert Lea/Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.
Pootie Reed, owner of the Lakeside Cafe and Creamery, said she expects a 30% to 50% jump in business.
“If this continues, it will be absolutely wonderful for the town and the area,” Reed said.
The FMCA is using the positive economic impact of its rallies on local communities to persuade legislators from various states to repeal or not to enact laws that prevent RV dealers from several states away from selling units at FMCA rallies.
In many cases, dealers in some of the states where FMCA rallies have occurred say only dealers located within a reasonable distance of the rally sites should be allowed to sell RVs at the gatherings. Consequently, dealers in certain states have persuaded their state lawmakers to prohibit dealers coming from long distances from selling units at FMCA rallies.
FMCA officials say they now must counter-attack because the number of states with facilities adequate for hosting an international rally has gotten too small.
The fees paid by dealers to display units at FMCA rallies helps the FMCA cover the cost of staging its rallies.