This Montana-based chapter holds most of its rallies near popular attractions, or to coincide with festivals.
By Peggy Jordan, F401999, Associate Editor
July 2009, FMC magazine
"Big Sky Country" is one of Montana's nicknames, and it sure fits. America's fourth-largest state has a total of 147,000 square miles. "Big Sky" can be seen everywhere you go.
The Big Sky FMCA chapter is the association's only chapter based in Montana. You don't have to live there to join, but it helps. These motorhomers hold rallies in June, July, August, and September, in various Montana locations. Chapter president Dennis Ogle said they try to plan gatherings in both the eastern and western parts of this huge state.
This month the group, which has approximately 75 member families, will hold its 20th anniversary rally, and they're doing it in style. "We'll be at the National Folk Festival in Butte, Montana," Dennis said. "Pretty big doings for us." The festival will be held July 10 through 12 (for more festival information, see www.nationalfolkfestival.com). Chapter members will be able to enjoy this free international festival of music and culture, plus celebrate with anniversary festivities.
This is a fun and diverse group; some are retired, but approximately one-third are still working, and members own all kinds of coaches. Chapter rallies typically start on Thursday and end Sunday morning. Dennis said each day usually begins with a continental breakfast, and after the day's activities, they meet for a social hour. Potlucks and dinners at restaurants make up the evening meals.
Hosts like to pick a festival or a point of interest to center the rally around. Dennis noted that last year the group went to the Manhattan Potato Festival in Manhattan, and Pioneer Days in Deer Lodge. Other events they've enjoyed include the Montana Chokecherry festival in Lewistown.
There are plenty of attractions in Montana to use as a basis for a rally, too. Chapter treasurer and newsletter editor Franz Ortloff recalled past rallies with tours of Fort Benton, an acoustic guitar factory in Bozeman, and a mandolin factory in Logan.
Besides all that, members like to play campground games or golf games such as Yuma golf.
Speaking of Yuma, the area around that Arizona town is a winter location of choice for Montanans, as they can drive straight south to get there. Several times, chapter members have bumped into each other in Yuma and wound up holding casual get-togethers.
Dennis and Franz both pointed out a fun member perk: license plate frames with the words "BIG SKY FMCA" printed on them. Chapter members often get a second set of frames, so they can put them on both their motorhome and towed car.
A set of frames are included with new member dues, which are $20 the first year (a $5 initiation fee, plus the $15 annual membership fee). A chapter newsletter is published five times a year. For more information about the Big Sky FMCA chapter or other chapters, contact FMCA’s Chapter Services Department at (513) 474-3622, (800) 543-3622; e-mail
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