The Winnebago Itasca Travelers (WIT) Grand National Rally got underway Sunday (July 17), drawing around 1,600 coaches and 3,500 people to the motorhome builder’s hometown in Forest City, Iowa.
According to a report in the Forest City Summit, the event has become a rite of summer over the years for Winnebago club members.
“I’ve never met a nicer town,” said John Loomis, a Rochester, N.Y., native who has been coming to WIT since 1989. “It’s clean. It’s welcoming. It’s wonderful.”
Loomis is one of more than 18,000 members of WIT, an organization run by Winnebago that plans rallies, tours and motorcades. But the Grand National is the granddaddy of them all.
“To me, it’s an amazing event because so many of the people that make this work are member volunteers,” WIT General Manager Denny Burkholder said. “But it really is a team effort.”
WIT employees spend countless hours working on the rally, although Burkholder said no one works more closely with the rally than Rosie Dirksen.
“The GNR’s her job,” he said. “When the motorhomes leave, Rosie’s already working on next year.”
One of the more popular draws during the rally was an “RV Rodeo” held on Tuesday. More than 20 people participated in the competition, featuring several driving skill events, such as backing a motorhome through orange cones set up in an S shape.
Also included in the slate of seminars, activities and entertainment was a women’s driving class, providing female club members with a chance to learn more about their coach and gain confidence behind the wheel.