Redmond’s ‘Rally’ A Small Town on Wheels

July 20, 2007 by   - () Leave a Comment

Redmond in central Oregon is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, so maybe it’s fitting that the city and the Deschutes County Fairgrounds are hosting one of the country’s largest RV gatherings — The Rally, sponsored by Affinity Group Inc. (AGI). The city’s population of 21,000 will swell to 30,000 for the event. That’s 9,000 people and 4,000 RVs, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Portland.
The fairgrounds in Redmond are actually the largest fairgrounds west of the Rocky Mountains. But right now, there isn’t an empty plot of grass to be seen. Just rows upon rows of motorhomes.
(The Ralley previously was known as the Great North American Ralley. AGI is the parent company of Woodall’s Campground Management.)
On the outskirts of this short-term subdivision, John Wallata stands admiring his new RV, with no small sense of pride.
“This is a Fleetwood Revolution that has been customized quite a bit, it’s actually a rolling, amateur Radio Shack,” he said.
Wallata drove down on Tuesday, from Seattle, with a Ham radio buddy of his. And Wallata says as swank as his rig is, it pales in comparison to some of the others just down the way.
Some RVers spend three-quarters of a million dollars on their rolling homes, and can easily top a million with all the extras – things like high definition television, high speed Internet, whatever else an RVer might want.
But, Wallata says, even with all that, the only jealousy that goes on is friendly.
“One thing about RVers: If you take five or six RVs and park ‘em closer together, almost an instant community forms,” said Wallata. “I don’t think anybody can set up a neighborhood as fast as RVers can. What I do is sit in one of those chairs there and take my Pomeranian there and everybody comes along and talks to me.”
Local residents share a decidedly mixed view of the invading hordes. Already, traffic is at a close to a standstill near the fairgrounds. But, with $7 million in expected tourism revenue, the visitors can’t be seen as all bad.
Jim and Mary Crotzer, from the Seattle area, are thinking about spending a lot of money here.
They are actually looking at buying a brand new motorhome. A lot of the biggest RV dealers set up shop at the rally, with all the latest models.
No matter what the Crotzers end up buying, it’ll be bigger than the old-school 18-footer they’ve got now.
The Crotzers say they’ve only been to only one other rally before this. But they’re thinking they might become regulars. They says it’s because of all the daily seminars and classes you can take like crocheting and how to use solar power. Plus the entertainment.
Former sitcom star Suzanne Sommers performed at a variety show Thursday night. An attempt to break the world record for largest whoopee cushion sit will be at 6:30 tonight, just before Gary Puckett and BJ Thomas take the stage. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will play at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Will Shelby, from Warren, near St. Helens, says it’s just a big party. Shelby only complained about one thing in so far: the weather. On Wednesday, when he pulled in, it was raining. And he even says he felt a little hail later in the evening. But it doesn’t concern him too much.
“That’s the option you got with the motorhome, you can chase the sun,” Shelby said, laughing.


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