While it is cold and dark up in Essex Junction planning for our rally is starting to heat up. I thought it would be fun to share some of the work that takes place in the months before the rally. I am very excited to be one of the many hosts of the 06 rally; as a life-long New Englander I have a special fondness for Vermont and I am looking forward to welcoming you to the region.
Our planning for the Vermont rally started last spring at the board level and has continued since. Along with my co-chairs Josh Ascher and Michael Friedle we have made a few visits to the area to get a feel for how we will use the available facilities. Michael has booked some fantastic entertainment and has been working with St. Michaels College to secure use of their showers and provide their dormitories and townhouses. For the first time I am aware of the board held our fall meeting at the rally site which gave everyone a chance to get a good look at the CVE.
Over the last few months I have been contacting past and potential committee chairs to recruit the first wave of people necessary to make our rally work. There are 83 people involved in chairing or co-charing 43 committees all of which need to work together. Once again we have a great team, many of whom have been returning time and time again. Many of these dedicated volunteers will be spending two or three days busting their backsides to get everything ready, we just can't thank them enough.
We have also started ramping up our rally publicity; articles are appearing in the BMW Owners News and here on the website. Our publicity chair, Muriel Farrington (editor BMW Motorcycle Owners of Vermont newsletter) had been hard at work gathering information and Paul Bachorz has put together an incredible document of some of the many things to do while you are in Vermont. Take a look at our outside the rally page for more.
We are encouraging you to come to Vermont early and enjoy the region. We can not accommodate early arrivals (except setup volunteers) on site so we have made arrangements with the state of Vermont to have exclusive use of the Lake Carmi State Park.
Carmi is a fantastic park with plenty of tent and lean-to sites. We have the entire park reserved for your pre-rally pleasure for a discounted rate of $4 per day or $5 per day for a lean-to site. Each site can accommodate up to 8 campers. If necessary there is a large overflow area, this is the park that hosted camping for both the Grateful Dead and Phish, the park and the surrounding area knows how to support campers.
Two weeks ago I was in Essex Junction to meet with the site manager, Tom Oddy. Tom is a great guy and has plenty of experience putting on events from top music acts to the annual fair and he is already proving to be a great asset.
Tom Oddy of the Champlain Valley Exposition
One of the items I wanted to discuss and confirm with Tom is sanitation and showers. This is always a concern because while the sites we need to support our crowd can easily handle a group 5 to 10 times larger it is very rare that they encounter thousands of campers. While they have more than enough restrooms, showers are always an issue, are there enough, can we bring in trailers, when will they be cleaned, etc. How may showers are enough? With four thousand campers it is impossible to have enough showers for everyone to have a morning shower yet we must try to have enough facilities available for everyone to be able to get cleaned up at some point, even if it is not at 7am.
At the CVE they have 24 installed showers and a six head trailer bringing the total to 30. Michael Friedle has made arrangements with the college for us to have use of their showers (athletic facilities) for some time in the morning and afternoon which will be a big help. In Lima there were 48 installed showers and 16 in the trailer. I need to do some more research (accurate count of showers in the college) and make a decision or if it will be a budget buster speak with the board on the best course of action.
One part of the juggling act the rally chairs must do is with the budget and the desire to host the perfect event. In this case a large shower trailer delivered and set up on site would have a cost of $10,000. This seems like a steep price to pay for 16 showers. As an aside I asked one of the shower truck companies if they could give me an idea of showers per hour. I was told that the average man takes seven minutes to shower whereas the average woman takes 15. I think 15 is a bit high myself.
One thing we will have plenty of is ladies toilets. The CVE can claim to having the largest women's restroom in the state.
Vemont's largest ladies room looking at one end form the middle
The showers are spread through a number of buildings. The building above is located next to where the beer garden will be. Because of liquor control laws the area where beer is served must be defined by a fence, we will be using the orange snow fencing commonly seen in Vermont. Tom suggested we include this building in the fenced area with a small gate so people enjoying the entertainment can move between the tent and the restrooms without having to worry about their beverages. The final decision on this will be made with the beer garden chairs.
Last year the board decided that we should provide free morning coffee to our guests. In Lima the Yankee Beemers stepped up and served close to 15,000 cups of coffee during the rally. This year the Mac-Pac has stepped up to raise the bar. Below is a shot of the north side of the grandstand, morning coffee will be served outside of the garage door.
After a productive day in Essex I headed south to Muriel's place for a dinner and meeting with our hospitality chairs, Connie Allen-Cousino and John Fish representing the BMW MOV along with Ted Hall who will be setting up the puppy dog ride and some other riding events. We had a great dinner and tossed around some ideas on how to make everyone feel welcome in Vermont.
After the meeting I returned to Rhode Island, it was a long day. Along the way to dinner I happened to see a guy driving a Japanese truck with Harley and NASCAR stickers adorned with Vermont tags. In some places this would be an oxymoron, however in Vermont diversity rules. I did think the irony merited a photo:
Last weekend I returned to Essex Junction with my boys to check out the fairground when they had an event on. The draw was Sno-Cross which is motocross on snowmobiles. It was very cool to watch and we had a ball.
One of the things I wanted to confirm is the spot for Sherpa Ted. Ted needs a good space for his tent city and before inking the deal I wanted to make sure we had a good spot for him. I went out back in my truck and parked along the snow fence. I wasn't out of the truck 30 seconds when I was approached by a guy from Green Mountain Concert Services, the firm that provides security for events at the expo and surrounding area.
Unlike most "rent-a-cops" this gentleman was polite, friendly and very professional just like everyone I encountered at the expo. I told him what I was up to and he explained that as I was parked along the snow fence separating the public form the pits I shouldn't stay long. Green Mountain Concert Services will be providing security before our volunteers take over Thursday morning, check him out.
Saturday night we stayed at the Best Western Windjammer Inn which is a few miles from the site. Once again everyone was friendly in the face of stress, there were a few college sports teams in residence and it was a little "zooey" but everyone was fun, friendly and polite which is what you can expect from Vermonters.
We were having so much fun we returned Sunday for the finals and had a exciting ride home in the blizzard.
This is just a sample of the activities that go into setting up our rally. In addition to the rally webpages and features in the Owners News, I look forward to using this thread to give you an insiderÔÇÖs look into the process of building a national. If you have any suggestions please feel free to send them to me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
See you in Vermont, it's NOT flat!