It’s interesting to watch people settling into Alumapalooza each year. When I have a few minutes I go walk the rows of trailers to see what people are doing. By the second day I see lots of spontaneous gatherings around grills and under awnings, families playing with their children, and couples just relaxing together. By the third day, the general mood becomes very festive, and it’s not long before attendees are grabbing anyone in an orange staff shirt to tell us that Alumapalooza is a wonderful event and that they are so impressed with the job we’re doing.
That started to happen yesterday, and it felt great for all of us to get that feedback. It was another absolutely gorgeous day, the kind that midwesterners don’t usually get in June, with low humidity, sunshine, and temperatures in the 70s most of the day. Everyone was talking about what great sleeping weather we got overnight too: about 55 degrees for the low. I saw a lot of trailers with windows open all night. So we all popped up feeling pretty good, except Brett who seems to have acquired a cold and was awake some of the night. He’s running on reserve energy, still keeping up with the workload despite circumstances.
We are fortunate to have another helper now, Brett’s sister Lori, who flew in from Denver and has been busy helping with everything, especially the registration booth. Being from a family of natural salespeople, she took on the task of selling our leftover t-shirts and my two books, and in her capable hands they are both disappearing at a rapid pace.
Yesterday started with yoga again (popular as always), and a big SkyMed presentation in the other tent with yogurt and fruit for all, plus coffee provided by the NOVA unit of WBCCI. We also started the sign-up sheet for the upcoming Rivet Masters competition. All of those things got a lot of people moving early, and by 9 a.m. things were hustling around the main tent for Airstream’s Product Feedback sessions. Those two sessions were an opportunity for people to stand up and be heard on any issue or suggestion for improving new Airstreams. One thing you can be sure of, Airstreamers always have an idea of what could be made better. I’m amazed that they were able to conclude two separate sessions (one for men, one for women) in just two hours. Airstream’s head of product development Bruce Bannister and their new VP of Sales Justin Humphries led those sessions, with a few other Airstream managers standing by to listen.
At one point during the day I got a chance to break away to visit with Larry Huttle, who has been in senior management for Airstream for over thirty years. He’ll be retiring later this year, and that will be a huge loss for the company. Larry and I talked about Airstream past and present, and made plans to meet up in Arizona this summer, where he will be living post-retirement.
We have experimented with offering a bicycle ride this year, which was led by Bert Gustafson yesterday morning. Perhaps it was the spectacular weather, but attendance was much higher than I expected. Bert led a group of about 40 cyclists, and is considering offering another “off-schedule” ride at some point this week too.
Other popular talks yesterday included Tim Maxwell and Dave Schumann talking about Airstream interior maintenance, Kristiana Spaulding talking about interior designs, and John Long talking about the “Streamline Moderne” design and how it was influenced by Airstream and Bowlus. He and his wife Helena arrived yesterday in their gorgeous 1935 Bowlus trailer.
But the big event for us was Eleanor trying out her new portable Airstream kitchen. Colin Hyde was supposed to be here for a talk about vintage restoration but couldn’t make it, so we slipped Eleanor into the schedule and she demonstrated how to make Bananas Foster. That’s a great one to watch, especially when the rum is set on fire. We brought two gallons of ice cream and handed out samples to everyone in the audience.
I think we handed out another thirty door prizes or so during Happy Hour, including a beautiful silver necklace made by Kristiana Spaulding. The other really big door prizes are coming tonight and Saturday.
After that the Shelby County Sheriff showed up to do a K-9 demonstration, which I missed solely because it was my time to go decompress and have dinner in the trailer. (By the way, Alex says that in carny parlance the manager’s trailer is referred to as the “pie wagon.”)
Around 8:45 Adam and I took the Miata into town to get ice cream at the local pizza place. The cones there are massive — one is suitable for two people in my opinion — but great. It was another perfect evening for a little top-down cruising, so we went a few miles out of town just for fun, then back to the ‘palooza site and cruised the grassy field a little.
My day didn’t wrap up as early as I had hoped. At 10 p.m. I was scheduled to call into The VAP podcast to report on Alumapalooza, which took until nearly 10:30. I think we got to bed around 11:30, which has made it tough to start early today but as I said, Alumapalooza waits for no one. It’s 8:30 a.m. as I complete this, and time to get moving again so I don’t miss Marty Shenkman’s talk at 9.