Friday, February 04, 2011

Glutton For Punishment at the FMCA Rally

Sweetwater Rv Park - Zephyrhills, Florida

Against our better judgement, we decided to drive back to the Brooksville FMCA Rally.   I wanted to see the Picasa seminar put on by the Geeks on Tour.  I have been using Picasa for a while now, and I just don't have the photo organization part down yet.  Rick has posted some very good information on his website under  "Tips and Techniques."  

Anyway, there were a few seminars we wanted to attend so we went back.  We missed Mac the Fire Guy's seminar because it was early and we just didn't get moving very early.  Gotta read my blogs, you know!

We got there, paid our $14 and were directed where to park.  So far, so good.  I made the mistake of asking if there would need to sign up for the seminars, and was told we wouldn't be allowed to attend the seminars!  Oh it goes again!

What we found out was that for the $7 per person admittance fee, you can go into the vendor tent,  the motor homes brought by local dealers, and the food vendors outside.    That's it!  I wanted to get our money back and go home, but Al wanted to go on in...since he'd driven there twice now!  So we decided to bite the bullet and go inside.

They gave us florescent orange stickers to wear, that identified us as "Day Pass" people.  (remember the Scarlet Letter?)   We felt like we didn't belong, but we did notice a lot of other people with the same scarlet letter.

I have never felt so unwelcome at any place as I felt there. I felt like we were trespassing and didn't belong.  I felt like everyone was looking at us thinking we didn't belong there.  I know, that was just me, but that's the feeling I had.  Most of the time, when there are rv people around, everyone is very friendly and welcoming.  To be fair, the people at the rally were nice, it was the organization that made us feel that way.  We certainly didn't have a warm and fuzzy feeling.

We went into the vendor tent and the first vendor we saw was Precise Satellite.  Don and Bonnie Ellis sell satellite systems and were putting on a seminar later in the day.  We explained that we would love to attend their seminar, but weren't allowed since we were "Day Pass."  She was surprised by that and upset that FMCA was turning away business.  They pay good money for those vendor booths and they want as many people at their seminars as they can.  Bonnie was nice enough to give us vendor badges so that we could attend any seminar we wanted.  We proudly put those green badges on right on top of our Scarlett letters!

Unfortunately the Picasa seminar was the same time as the Satellite seminar, so Al went one way and I went the other.

Boy was that Picasa seminar good!  Jim and Chris Guld not only know their stuff, but they know how to teach it.  They kept saying in their seminar that they sell training dvd's and had them for sale at their booth.  I guess they expected people could come back after the seminar to the booth and buy some dvd's.  Guess what?

Yep...FMCA was about to do it again!   The seminars ended at 3:15 and by the time we got back to the vendor tent, they were closing it down for their little parade at 3:30!  So the vendor tent was closed down for the rest of the day. We could not believe that!   Do they try to aggravate people, or what?   Chris and Jim had a very good turnout at their seminar and I'm sure many people would have gone to buy their dvd's....if they could have gotten into the vendor tent.

After that, we walked through a few motor homes.  There were quite a few dealers there with both new and used motor homes.

We bought a few things from the various vendors, so they made some money from us. I don't know that we'd go back to another FMCA rally.  There is another one in Perry, Georgia in March.  I'm not sure if it's put on by the same group.   Evidently FMCA has many different regional groups and they do not all run their rally's the same.  Jim of the Geeks told us the National FMCA is better.  I made a point of telling as many vendors as I could that the day pass people were not allowed in the seminars.  They were very surprised about that.

 As it turned out, I don't know how they would have kept anyone out of the seminars.  There was no one at the gate checking your "credentials".  The only thing is day pass people didn't get a program that listed the seminar schedule.

I think we now finally understand how the rally worked.  I certainly understand that if you pay to park your motor home for the week, you should get the benefit from that.   I just never saw anything on the website saying day pass people couldn't attend seminars.  I guess now we have an education of how rv rally's work!

We're having very warm weather but that past 2 days have been cloudy and it looks like today will be the same.  The temperature has only been getting down into the 60's at night and we have been able to sleep with our windows open, like we like.  It looks like Florida is one of the few warm places right now.  I feel so sorry for all the people dealing with the bitter cold temps and snow.  What a winter.    We don't plan to head back to Georgia until spring is there!


  1. Glad you got the green "pass" to go to the seminars. All the years we attended I never knew day pass folks couldn't attend seminars. Like you said, I don't know who is checking. At the Perry Rally (we attended one of those years ago), it is much larger with more seminars, vendors and entertainment. This year they are "permitting" 5ers as well-amazing FMCA decided that IMO-a first.

  2. Glad to see that you got your correct badges - good grief!!

    Most of the stuff, seminar wise, that I think I need to know I can usually find on the Internet. With outfits like the one you visited, I'm sure glad of that because I wouldn't want to put up with all those officials and hassle.

    If I was a vendor, I'd be pretty upset at them turning folks away.

  3. Sorry you had such grief at the rally... I never knew day pass people couldn't attend the seminars either. What a shame since it could lead to a big sale for the vendors. Hope the rest of your week rocks!!!
    Have fun & travel safe

    ps... we have attended the Georgia rally several times but camped there so I don't know if that same rule applies...

  4. I guess for us ignorance was bliss. We attended for the day on Wednesday and went to three seminars. We didn't realize that we could not attend and had printed the classes from the website. It never occured to us that the seminars were not included.

    We were amazed how many vendors were there. The Spartan chassis seminar was very informative and packed with excellent maintenance information and resources.

    I'd highly recommend the rally in Perry Georgia. This is their national rally and the seminars and entertainment are great If you sign up before Feb 7th you will save some money. Its a great location and time of year to be there.

    The Geeks on Tour offer a lot of classes and have a boot camp for those who want to understand their computer better.

  5. Nice and warm here in California!

    I will think twice about going to a FMCA rally. I was considering one next fall, but I wouldn't want Craig to have a negative experience.

  6. So sorry you got that info about no seminars on a day pass. We also went to the ONE day rally in Perry Ga a few years ago and attended several of the seminars. It was the only reason we went. We loved the rally,but we went anywhere we wanted. I'm sure the National FMCA would be more organized.

    We enjoy all the classes the Geeks do, and we bought the CD which is very good. Hope to see you again soon before we all scatter for the summer.

  7. Makes no sense to passes at the Gypsy Journal Rally give you access to everything for the day. You can even attend the evening entertainment.

    Have to wonder how long FMCA will last at this rate...jeesh!!

  8. I am sorry you were treated in such a rude and shabby manner, but it is not the first time we have heard or seen this happen. We have experienced it ourselves on more than one occassion.

    As an FMCA commercial member, I have taken the liberty of sending a link to your two blog posts about this to the president and every national officer of FMCA, along with a letter telling them that it is no wonder their membership numbers are shrinking, when people are treated this way.

    We'd love to have you attend one of our Gypsy Journal rallies, where you will be greeted with open arms and made to feel welcome.

  9. Boy after being treated like that, almost makes me want to NOT ever renew our FMCA membership?

    How awful to be treated that way. It's not like you were expecting to be the Exception to the Rule, or get Something for Nothing... you were going by the information on their website an wishing to attend as a local RV owner and member.

    What the He** ????

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  10. We have been members of FMCA for many years. We have attended the FMCA rally in Perry, GA, in our motor home. If my memory serves me right (and it often doesn't), I think the seminars were only for those who paid the weekly fee and were camping there.

    Maybe FMCA limits the seminars to those who have paid the weekly rate because that way they would have a general idea of how many would be attending the seminars - i.e. how much space would be needed. However, that's just a guess.

    I haven't looked at their website, but if they didn't want day pass people to attend, then the website should have clearly said so.

    As Nick said, you should really consider a Gypsy Journal rally. They welcome people with open arms and the seminars are such a good size. You'll meet a lot of nice people there and the vendors are good too. It's a much smaller rally, but personally I prefer the smaller rallies.

    Sorry you had such a bad experience.


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