Doug Formanek felt blessed as he bid farewell to thousands of people last Friday (july 24).
The Winnebago Itasca Travelers (WIT) Club general manager’s prayers were answered as another Grand National Rally at the company’s headquarters in Forest City, Iowa, came to a successful end, according to a report by The Summit.
And considering the weather forecasts over the past couple of weeks, Formanek was doubly grateful as the six-day rally came to an end Friday morning.
“Believe me, I said my prayers every day,” Formanek said. “It seemed like we had a chance of rain every day lately, and I know how difficult the decisions are to make because of rain. To get through like we did, we feel very fortunate, very blessed.”
The rally attracted 1,357 motorhomes and more than 3,000 people to Forest City. And although the rally officially didn’t begin until July 20, hundreds of motorhomes were on the rally grounds for much of the month.
Attendance at the rally exceeded a year ago, and while the weather was threatening at times, Formanek and his staff only had to survive a few downpours – two on July 17 and one on July 19. The rally itself stayed pretty much dry, which meant all the entertainment went off on schedule.
“That’s the big thing,” Formanek said. “People come here to have fun, to celebrate the RV lifestyle. And this year, I would say it was a great, great celebration.”
He said events like the live broadcast by CBS News’ “The Early Show” last Tuesday and the car parade that was held on Wednesday were big hits for rally participants. But what may have made Formanek and other Winnebago officials most excited was the sheer number of motorhomes on the rally grounds.
Some had worried high gas prices would limit attendance; instead, this year’s number of motor homes was 7.5% higher than a year ago.
“It’s great for Winnebago and really the RV industry as a whole,” Formanek said. “I think it shows that people love that RV lifestyle and that’s a message we’re always anxious to get out.”
As Formanek talked Friday, the “Great Skedaddle” was on as hundreds of vehicles left the grounds. At some Forest City gas stations, lines could be seen as motor home enthusiasts hit the road for either home or another rally.
Yet, the departure was, as usual, orderly.
“They’re like any of us,” Formanek said, “in that they don’t want to sit in line with the engines running any more than they have to.”