Feb 142009

Like so much in the RV industry, our attendance at this year’s Western Gypsy Gathering rally was down considerably from last year. The 2008 rally had 254 RVs, and this year our top number was 157. But the folks who came sure had fun, in spite of the rain, mud, wind, and cold. Here is a picture our friend Bill Joyce took from the top of his RV, showing some of the parking area, and just one of the numerous mud puddles left over from the storm that hit early in the week.

Yesterday morning after coffee and donuts, most of the RVs pulled out, off to their next adventure, or in search of more comfortable parking facilities. The fact that a rabbit and pig show was coming into the fairgrounds as we were ending our rally (more of that double booking we appreciate so much), didn’t do much to make folks want to stay longer. By noon the greatest majority of rigs had left.

But a few of us are hanging around, at least for the weekend. We moved from the front of the fairgrounds to the back, to be away from the incoming activities, and our friends Sami and Earl Aeverman are parked right next to us. Mac McCoy from Fire and Life Safety is one space away on the other side. Several others from the rally are scattered around the fairgrounds.

Coming into the rally, I asked people to save their receipts for any purchases they made with local businesses, because I want to show the community leaders the money our one little rally brings to town. Even Terry and I were surprised. Judging by what I have seen from the receipts handed in, I estimate that each RV spent well over $300 in Casa Grande. That’s over $47,000 minimum, in one week!

Not to mention the many thousands of dollars Terry and I paid to rent the fairgrounds, or the revenue they made from RVs who arrived early or are staying over. Or the nearly $1,000 we spent on the pizza party, or the hundreds of other dollars we spent on door prizes, donuts every morning, and rally supplies. And we are just one small RV rally.

Yet, the folks who run the fairgrounds just don’t seem to get it. In a couple of meetings yesterday, I showed them the feedback forms from the rally, where one attendee after another complained about the poorly maintained buildings and grounds, the filthy restrooms, and inadequate water and electrical hookups. They acknowledge they have serious problems, but don’t seem to care about fixing them.

Another major complaint we had was the fact that when we started having our rallies here, we had the exclusive use of the fairgrounds for the week. But somewhere along the line they decided it was okay to double book events, and to rent RV spaces to the general public in the middle of our rally!

Since the powers that be here obviously don’t care about our business, we’ll just take it (and our money) elsewhere. The coordinators of other RV rallies who have been using the fairgrounds told me that they are also not returning. Our attendees made it very plain to us that they don’t want to come back, and unless major improvements were made in both the fairgrounds itself and the mindset of the management, we won’t be.

There will be a Western rally next year, like always, but we have not settled on a location or a date yet. We are looking at several different venues, so stay tuned. As soon as we have something finalized, we’ll announce it here.

After existing on four or five hours of sleep a night all week, Terry and I plan to turn off our telephones and sleep late tomorrow. We’ll wrap up some business here over the weekend, have dinner with some friends we didn’t get to spend enough time with during the rally, and Monday we’re headed for Tucson.      

Thought For The Day – I think, therefore I laugh.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  4 Responses to “And Then They Were Gone”

  1. Hi Nick, I’m Nellie… at least that’s the moniker I mostly go by; sort of my ‘stage name’ when I’m playing country gigs. Anyway, this entry showed ‘no comments’ and, since that looked kinda lonely, thought I’d post one.

    Ralph Peters (an avid follower of yours) showed me your Cactus Beauty Contest photos and they were so funny I had to write and tell you.

    I usually post on Ian Giffin’s BusNut BBS (probably to the point of being a royal pain in the a**) but wanted to say ‘howdy.’ Your rally looks like great fun… I’ll stay tuned in to see where you relocate (too bad your present venue owners don’t appreciate your business – but some people just don’t get nothin’!).

    Adios and good travels,


  2. I think you should go up the ladder a little higher. You are talking to a fairground manager that doesn’t seem to care about your concerns. Perhaps the County Commissioners or even the Mayor would be more interested in retaining your business. And you know the newspaper business – use it to inform the good citizens of Casa Grande about the situation in their community.

    On the other hand, all that financial information could give you a good foot in the door when you want to schedule an event in another community. What town wouldn’t want to add that much moola to their coffers in a week?!

    Good job!!

  3. Nick and Terry – keep telling it like it is! If enough of us would speak up in enough places, we could change the world!

  4. Perhaps the Fairgrounds were not as good as we would like But it did not stop us from having a good time.

    Thanks Nick and Miss Terry

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