Sunday, August 26, 2018

Winnebago Grand Rally - Part I

All right, time to catch this blog up! 

Way, way back in July, we attended our first Winnebago Grand National Rally! But wait - what is the Grand Rally?  It's an annual get together of Winnebago RV owners in the home town of Winnebago - Forest City, Iowa.
Winnebago Industries was started by a group of business men because they were worried about the slumping economy in  Forest City.  This turned out to be a pretty good idea. Forest City only has a population of about 2,000, but Winnebago employs about 4,500 employees at several different facilities. 
The Grand Rally is a way for the Winnebago International Travelers' club (WIT) to have some fun and help local businesses. The rally takes place the last full week of July.  The town also holds its annual festival, Puckerbush Days, the week before Grand Rally. Nobody is sure what a puckerbush is anymore, but that doesn't get in the way of the fun!
Which brings us to something we found a bit confusing as newbies:

Puckerbush is from Thursday morning to Sunday morning (July 19 - July 22)
Grand Rally is from Sunday afternoon to Saturday morning (July 22 - July 29)
The rally grounds open at noon on the Tuesday before Puckerbush (July 17)

So - each day you stay before the Grand Rally is an additional $15, but the Sunday and Monday after the rally is free.
Let's talk about another thing that's confusing - the gates. Heritage Park has several gates, but you have to enter through the South Gate to pick up your registration package and pay extra days. The easiest way to find the South Gate is to find Chrysler of Forest City. You then turn onto 330th Street. and almost immediately turn onto Heritage Lane.
Heritage Lane is where everyone lines up to enter the hidden South Gate.

There are several places you can camp free at on at your way into Forest City - if you don't mind boondocking. Both Iowa and Minnesota have welcome centers on I-35, just up the road. Diamond Jo's Casino is also on I-35 and lets RVers stay overnight for free. Finally, you can camp overnight at the WIT Club and Museum in Forest City, which has about 12 spaces for RVs to park.
We like free, so we stayed at the Minnesota Welcome Center, then drove in early on July 17th. We'd been told that Tuesday and Sunday typically have the longest lines to get into the park, so we showed up at 9am - and still had about 15 rigs ahead of us. 

(It turned out to be a good thing we came in on Tuesday! It rained so much the next couple of days that they had to close the South Gate until things dried out.  We talked to quite a few people who had to camp elsewhere until the gates re-opened.)
While we're talking about the line, let's talk about those toads and trailers. If you have a toad, you will be asked to unhook it and park it temporarily out of the way.  Once you've been assigned a space for your rig, you can then move your car to one of the designated parking lots for toads.
If you have a trailer, you will enter the park first, and pick up your registration packet. You will then be directed down to the trailer lot, where you can drop the trailer before proceeding to your space. Trailers and cars are not allowed in the RV spaces, but you can have motorcycles, mopeds, and golf carts.
When you registered online, you were given a choice of  which row you want to camp at. There are rows for the different WIT clubs and chapters, like the Winnie B's and the MIL WIT. 

Thank you vets for your service!
There are also state rows. We choose Texas this year, but we're thinking we'll probably hang with the WIT Riders next year. If you need help parking, there are plenty of volunteers around to help. The ground was water-logged this year, so we saw several people really struggling to get their rigs in and leveled. Lets hope it doesn't rain so much next year😑
The sites have electric hook ups, but do not have a sewer connection. If you need to dump, you can buy a $30 ticket for the honey wagon. Water is available at either end of each row, and you will need to coordinate hooking up enough hoses to reach a spigot.
Finally, yes, there are showers! There are two shower buildings on the grounds, and this year, there were also shower trailers. The showers were very busy in the morning, but were almost empty in the afternoon. If you want to take a shower, we'd recommend waiting until just after lunch. 

Stay Tuned for Part II!

Monday, August 20, 2018

We're in Louisville!

Just a quick update to let everyone know we are alive, and in Louisville! We've been without reliable internet since August 1st, but we've got three bars here - so regular blogging will commence tomorrow!