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The RV Party of the Year

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

The almost perfect summer weather in the heart of Central Oregon can’t claim credit for the high-flying spirits that ran through this year’s RV rally. Nor can the beautiful backdrop of the snowcapped Cascade Mountains be held responsible for the show’s success. Rather, it was the thousands of attendees who made The Good Sam Rally, presented by DISH Network, one of the best rallies to date – but the pleasant climate and majestic views certainly were welcomed.

From July 14 to 17 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, 6,500 rally-goers smiled as they walked their way through the many events, seminars and displays at the show. Near the registration booth, attendees placed a pin on the Home Town Map, sponsored by Rand McNally, showing their place of origin; the thousands of pins scattered across this nearly wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling map was proof positive that people came from all over the continent to attend this grandiose affair. They met new friends and reconnected with old ones, hung out on club days, toured this high-desert community, packed the seminar rooms, played golf, participated in the annual dog show and were entertained by the likes of Vince Gill, Bobby Vinton, Peter No one (of Herman’s Hermits) and the High Street Band. But the main attraction, as usual, was the shopping: Row after row of new RV products lined nearly 400 booths in the exhibit halls, and more than 600 new-model RVs were on display on the fairgrounds. To read about our picks for the coolest 2012 motorhomes on display at the show, check out “Stars of The Rally”.

Taking a break from all of the shopping opportunities at our 12th annual RV enthusiasts’ celebration, thousands of rally-goers gathered each morning to participate in club days. RV Publications Day, brought to you by Trailer Life, MotorHome, Trailer Life Directory, Camping Life and Woodall’s, opened its doors at 9 o’clock sharp on the first day of The Good Sam Rally, presented by DISH Network. It was by far the best venue around for RVers to connect with staffers from their favorite RV publications and to learn about what’s new in the RV industry by getting complimentary magazines, receiving discounts on books and directories as well as winning some of the newest and handiest products on the market.

Pioneer Days was the theme to this year’s Pub Day event, and Joanna and Michael McIntosh from Lazy M Ranch parked their old-school, horse-and-buggy-style wagon out front to welcome guests to the High Desert Activity Center at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. Inside, participants waited in line to spin the Wagon Wheel of Wonder for chances to win prizes and books, as well as a chance to ultimately win a brand-new WD2100XC washer/dryer combo unit, which was donated by Splendide. Some guests also opted to get branded by visiting tattoo artists Malea Anderson and Rebecca Anderson from Clowns Unlimited. And all morning long, line-dancing instructor Anna Maria Prach taught parties of potential stars how to shake it up while keeping in step with some great dance music.

Pub Day was also an established hot spot to give back to Redmond, the city that has welcomed us for three rallies thus far. The local nonprofit NeighborImpact assistant program worked with Pub Day staffers to collect canned goods to help those in need in this high-desert community: The Good Sam Rally-goers attending Pub Day donated a whopping 788 pounds of food … Thank you to all who donated!

Although the giving was good, the getting was also pretty impressive. Thousands of rally-goers went home with free loot – prizes that totaled nearly $30,000. As in years past, the first 2,000 attendees received a handsome embroidered ball cap, and this year, thanks to Thetford, every Pub Day attendee also received a sample of Eco-Smart holding-tank deodorant.

But that’s not even close to all: the annual Pub Day raffle also delivered this year with wonderful prizes such as some sweet Magellan GPSs, cool cases and gift cards from OtterBox, Xantrex inverters, more than a handful of ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Lanterns, some very cool products such as an ElGato EyeTV Hybrid, SuperTooth Buddy and a completely waterproof power strip, as well as an ADCO RV cover, a TengoInternet wireless adapter, a trickle charger from CEA Solar, Microsoft 2011 Streets & Trips with GPS Locator and Thetford also donated a Sani-Con System and two SmartDrain Sewer Systems. Ready America once again donated its popular Rock n’ Roll Motion-Proof Putty and other products, and we also raffled off eight Strongback chairs, all of which the winners had to sit in before accepting this prize – and, of course, they all loved them! An assortment of award-winning games and puzzles from Buffalo Games were a huge hit, which has convinced us that absolutely every RVer loves games. Other games from Maranda Enterprises and Daddy-O Productions were also well received.

Calling out numbers of raffle tickets for the many prizes took some time, but the crowd hooped and hollered all in good fun through it all. Just before the grand prize drawing, Lenore Beach, from Temple, Texas, won a Tempflow RV mattress valued at $1,299 (check out www.reliefmart.com for more details about this RV mattress). In fact, while wearing her very memorable red-white-and-blue-boa-accented hat, this lucky participant also won a bag of Protect All RV cleaning supplies. But if we were to name the luckiest RVers of all, it would be Glenn and Marilyn Nielsen of Fresno, Calif., as they were the grand-prize winners of a Good Sam RV Tour to their choice of Branson, the Pasadena Rose Parade or the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, valued at $2,400.

The Good Sam Rally is expanding to three great venues in 2012. It will take place in Phoenix March 22-25; Louisville, Ky., June 21-24; and Daytona, Fla., Nov. 2-4. Call 877-749-7122 or visit www.therally.com to reserve your spot.

Good Sam Rally

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