I think all the trailers we expected are here now, roughly 125 in total. Alumapalooza has taken over Jackson Center like a plague of silver locusts, and the locals love it. The hardware store is keeping a pin-board showing where all their customers have come from this week. Phil’s Market was completely wiped out of some items, including milk.
Last night’s lasagna dinner at the Methodist Church ran out of food at 6:10 p.m., only forty minutes after they started serving. The Airstream store and Service Center are doing terrific business and will both have to stay open on Saturday just to keep up. The Fire Department dropped by with their new truck last night during Happy Hour and was inundated with donations to help them equip it. (We’re grateful to those guys for watching over us when the big t-storms were passing by.)
This is all great because Jackson Center is a small town in a quiet part of Ohio, and the economy hasn’t been too good anywhere lately. I’m glad we were able to bring Alumapalooza together here and help the community while we also had a good time.
And we ARE having a good time! I can’t count the number of people who have come up to tell us how much fun they are having. Everyone has been very complimentary. There’s no doubt we need to make this an annual event, so we made the formal announcement on stage with Bob Wheeler (president of Airstream) that Alumapalooza 2011 will be held May 31 – June 5, 2011. We’ll have online registration opening up in July this year.
Our day started with sKY and slaDE leading the yoga class again, followed by Colin Hyde pontificating about vintage restoration. (Colin knows what he is talking about — two hours later he was still talking and people were still listening.)
Then we were excited to have our European contingent arrive, led by Michael Hold of Airstream Europe (UK). Ten European Airstream owners have come on a group tour, all wearing identical white group shirts with AIRSTREAM EUROPE printed on them. Some were British, two were Dutch, and I think we had a couple of Germans as well. They turned out to be a wonderful group, very engaged and excited about being here. They got a private tour through the facilities by Dave Schumann, then toured the factory, and afterward joined Michael for his presentation about Airstreaming in Europe. Our “Silver Swingers” event, where American owners had the chance to interact with European Airstream owners and possibly discuss trailer swaps, was well attended, although I don’t know if any arrangements were ultimately made.
Eleanor was contracted to provide the Europeans with a private lunch, so we spent half the morning prepping for that under the shade of our awning and Brett’s motorhome awning. The group said that her meal was the best one they’ve had since they left Europe: lentil and vegetable curry, chick peas with onion and ginger, chicken kabouli, saffron rice with peaches, basmati rice, sweetened iced chai and hot tea, with lemon cookies and nut clusters for dessert. Once serving was done, our crew of four sat down with them and enjoyed OUR first good meal all week, too!
Bob was kind enough to allow rooftop access to a small group of photographers who wanted to capture images of the event. Our official photographer, Alison Turner, was among them, and I am expecting some terrific photos from her later, which we will post on the official Alumapalooza 2011 website a little later.
I heard from our vendors (JJ Johnjulio of SkyMed, Michael Depraida, Kristiana Spaulding, Steve Ruth of P&S Trailer) that it was a great day to do business. Kristiana was nearly cleaned out of her great silver trailer jewelry.
The day’s seminars ended with Jim Webb of Zip-Dee talking about awning care and repair, and then Andy Thomson’s fascinating talk about towing. You might be thinking that towing is a dry topic, and you might believe all the misinformation you have read on the Internet about what makes a safe towing vehicle arrangement, but Andy can broaden your knowledge on both points. Many people told me they were impressed by the depth of his knowledge, research, and thoughtful consideration of the problems involved in setting up a tow vehicle and trailer. Today he is going to offer people the chance to test drive his Jetta diesel hitched to a new 2011 Airstream 23-footer.
We had a ton of leftovers from the lunch (Eleanor always cooks too much) so we invited a few folks over for potluck dinner. Lou & Larry came over, along Bob Wheeler and his family (Kelly and the kids), two of their friends, our crew of four, Terry & Sue B, Joe Diamond (tonight’s entertainer), Michael Depraida, Kristiana Spaulding, and Alison Turner. And somehow, through the magic of potluck, we STILL have more leftovers!
After dinner we all headed back to the big tent to see Chris McDaniel do his fantastic western roping show. Even though I’ve seen it before, it was terrific fun. He roped Dale “Peewee” Schwamborn on the stage and then cracked off 1-inch chunks of a stick of pasta that was stuck into Peewee’s bound hands. He sang, danced, did rope tricks, bullwhip tricks, magic, and generally just entertained the heck out of us.
Last night we had a chance to take things easy. I got some time to sit down with people I’ve wanted to talk to, and Eleanor and Lisa went for a walk. Around 10 p.m. a big thunderstorm appeared in the dark to the west and we got a pretty good light show for half an hour. Eventually Brett, Joe, Brad, and John Long (pictured above with the Bowlus) all ended up at our trailer watching and photographing it.
This morning we are going to surprise a few people by playing Jimi Hendrix’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner” really loud on the PA in the big tent, just before the Swap Meet is scheduled to start… A lot of people have said they are coming back next year. Maybe a little Woodstock flashback music will help ensure they are really committed!