Getting There, Getting Parked, Getting Started
We are thrilled that you'll be joining us for this great event and hope that you are excited to be joining thousands of other like-minded RVers. The information below will help guide you through your first international convention and provide tips you might only learn through experience.
Before Departing For Gillette
Review the contents in your Confirmation Packet. Make sure you received two parking credentials (Parking card and Date of Entry card), your First Timer window placard, and name badges for those attending. If you received incorrect credentials or there is a problem with your badges, contact the Events Department at (800) 543-3622.
Read the Confirmation Guide included in your confirmation packet. This booklet includes information that will make for a worry-free journey to the grounds and provide a general idea of what to expect when you arrive, where to place your coach credentials in the windshield, etc.
You'll have the opportunity to make lots of new friends at the event. But why not invite other RV-owning friends to register and join in the fun. By coming with others you know, you'll be able to share the experience with friends with whom you are familiar and comfortable.
Before heading to Gillette or as you near the site, empty your gray and black holding tanks and fill your freshwater tank. A dump station and fresh water will be available on site, and septic and water service from a contracted company will be available for a fee if you need the service(s). But you'll find it will be much easier once you arrive if you don't have to worry about emptying and/or filling these tanks.
Arriving In Gillette
Your parking credentials will indicate the type of parking you chose when you registered. Follow the directions included in the Confirmation Packet to get to your parking area. The Arrival Area is where you can pick up Will Call credentials or wait for friends with whom you would like to park.
Prior to arrival, make sure your parking credentials are affixed to your windshield so the Parking Team volunteers can quickly identify the type of parking you requested.
Upon arrival, if you have a towed vehicle (car), please unhook it and have your co-pilot or another member of your party drive it separately so as not to hold up the parking operation once you arrive at your parking site. Better yet, stop outside of the grounds to unhook. This will help you stay on track and assure that you do not miss a seminar or activity that may have drawn you to Gillette in the first place.
Follow the Parking Team volunteer to your spot and park as directed. If there's a problem, have it resolved after you are parked, so as to allow the parking operation to flow smoothly. If you believe you've been parked in an incorrect area, find one of the Parking Team volunteers, and calmly discuss your situation. If the issue cannot be resolved in the parking area, ask to be taken to the Information Center to speak with someone at the information/registration desk.
While you were being parked you received your Welcome Bag filled with all kinds of great information. Once parked and settled in, find the Locator Link card in your Welcome Bag, log in to FMCA.com/Locator; complete the form, and submit. Make sure to complete all of the boxes so we can find you in the event of an emergency.
The event program includes all the information needed to navigate the convention. Perhaps the most important part for a first-time attendee is the Grounds Services section, which provides nuts-and-bolts information about the event. Many questions you might have upon arrival will likely be answered in this section. The program also includes the schedule of events; descriptions for the seminars; a list of vendors and where they can be located; and much more. An electronic version of the program will be available on FMCA.com several weeks prior to the event for early planning purposes. This excellent resource is searchable and it can be downloaded to your device or viewed online.
For many, including convention veterans, one of the most difficult parts of the experience is figuring out where seminar rooms and activity areas are located. Included in your Welcome Bag will be two fold-out grounds maps. Use the map to familiarize yourself with the grounds. Since the majority of attendees are parked a day or two before the event starts, you might find it helpful to tour the grounds to orient yourself with the locations of the various activity areas. Also, make use of the trams system to get from the parking lots into the main activity areas. If you have a bike, bring it. It's the best way to get around.
As you review the schedule, you may be overwhelmed with the number of activities taking place during the event. You will want to do it all; resist that temptation. It's impossible. With more than 100 seminars scheduled, a large selection of motorhomes to look through, a vast array of products to check out in the exhibit hall, entertainment, social gatherings, and time spent enjoying the company of other attendees, you'll find that your days will disappear quickly. So as you review the schedule, highlight those activities that mean the most to you and create your own personal list of “things to do.” This will help you stay on track and assure that you do not miss a seminar or activity that may have drawn you to Gillette in the first place.
The day before the event begins, there will be a First-Timer's Orientation seminar. During this session, you will receive a tutorial on attending an FMCA Convention and RV Expo for the first time. There's so much to see and do during one of these shows, it's impossible for anyone to squeeze it all into his or her schedule. During this session you'll receive tips and advice about the activities you should focus on and how to use your time most efficiently.
Ask The Events Team
Questions & Answers Session
Curious about exactly how an FMCA convention works? We want to ease your worries about where to park, how to plan your day, and what you can't miss.
Events Director Doug Uhlenbrock and Events Manager Barb Feiler will be hosting live Q&A sessions via YouTube and Facebook Live.
RSVP on Facebook by clicking the links above or tune in on FMCA's YouTube channel and come ready with your questions! If you can't attend or do not use Facebook, each session will be posted on FMCA's YouTube channel and FMCA.com after recording.
Chat with Fellow Attendees
New! We have created a private Facebook group for attendees to chat about the Gillette convention.
Maybe this is your first convention, and you want to hear what to expect from "veteran" convention-goers. Maybe you have questions about the best route to take to Gillette or campgrounds to visit on your way. Maybe you just want to sit back and see what everyone else is talking about!
FMCA staff may also post periodic updates in the group about special convention activities, volunteer requests, reminders, etc.
Check back for the Gillette Facebook group!
Much of what a first-timer needs to know can only be gained through experience. But gaining that experience often results in missed activities, aimless wandering, and daily headaches. To help first-timers become savvy convention attendees without the first-time travails, FMCA will enlist the help of veteran convention-goers to pass along the knowledge they've absorbed while attending FMCA events. These mentors can be identified by the rectangular yellow buttons they will be wearing throughout the event. If you have questions, you're encouraged to ask a mentor who will be happy to help.
Members interested in becoming a first-time attendee mentor should contact the Events Department at (800) 543-3622 to sign up.