Monday, June 11, 2018

58th Escapade

For the second year in a row we were the co-coordinators of the Escapade along with John and Lora Newby. It was a very busy, but fun filled two weeks with all the preparation in the week before and then the actual event.  The Escapees are an all welcoming group for anyone who has an interest in the RVing lifestyle. It does not matter what kind of rig you have or even if you don't own one. Parked near us was a young lady who had flown in from Alaska and rented an RV for the rally. Across the road from her was a motorhome that cost well over a million dollars. There were even two people who were staying in tents. All are welcome to join the Escapees RV Club.
This was the first time we have attended an Escapade in Sedalia, Missouri. The Missouri State Fairgrounds was a good facility with all the RV sites being full hook ups..
The staff of 130 began arriving several weeks prior to the rally with all of them in place at least three days before the Sunday opening of the event. On Wednesday we had an after work happy hour to get together with the staff.
On Thursday at the end of the day the big job is filling nearly 700 welcome bags with fliers, coupons and ads from over 30 different supporters for each registered rig. It is an assembly line operation that the team completes in less than an hour. All are rewarded with a pizza party after the job was done.
Friday was the staff appreciation dinner. It was a time to socialize and have a great meal catered by a local company.
Mark, Cole and Jean yukking it up as Shawn, with Nanc's help, makes sure not one little drop of this very fine Card Bordeaux wine does not go to waste.
The coffee and donut booth is one of the most important, as they keep everyone fueled up. Gary and Mary along with Chick and Debby did this job. They served 1680 donuts and made 150 gallons of coffee. They raised $4063 for CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees) selling donuts.We know it is a hard job that requires getting up real early to have the coffee ready by 7:30 because we helped with this job several years ago. 
Pictured here are Escapade Directors Jean and Duane,  Director Assistants Robert and Jo, and the Co-coordinators Nanc, Jim, John and Lora. It was a great team to work with in putting on the whole event for nearly 1300 SKPs.
There are 27 different staff positions that are filled by volunteers to put on the event. Here are Volunteer and Info booth chairs Bill and Jan (Top left). They recruit attendees to help out with various jobs during the Escapade. Lanny and Lois (top middle) and Jack and Pat (lower right) are Market Hosts. They work with the 55 vendors who sell their wares at the rally. Sky with his grandson Gage (top right). Sky is the Property Chair and is responsible for ALL the equipment, as well as, setting up the seminar rooms, stage and generally anything else that needs done. Bottom left are Entertainment Hosts Brenda and Dave who have been fulltimers for 27 years and have attended almost half of the 58 Escapades. There used to be two a year. One very important team I did not get a picture of  is the Parking Team. They come in early and have the job of getting the 657 RVs parked safely, rain or shine.
By Sunday everything must be ready for the 3:00 opening ceremony. Here, Duane and Jean introduce Escapee's CEO Shawn Loring. President Travis Carr and Vice President Melanie Carr.
At each assembly there are announcements and door prizes. I had fun doing the announcements again this year and raised over $70 for CARE by asking for a donation for returning found items. The door prize give-away is always fun and the last couple of years kids from the Kidscapade group were the prize runners. There were 40 kids at this years event.  
There is always great entertainment and this year was no exception. Sunday evening was Bill Lepp, a teller of tall tales and humorous stories. Bill is a five time winner of the West Virginia Liars Contest and his stories included many locations we have visited. If you every get a chance to hear Bill be ready for a evening of fun and laughter.
This was the 40th anniversary of Escapees and sadly the first without one of the two founders, Joe and Kay Peterson. We are so glad that we had a chance to talk to Kay in Tucson during last year's Escapade. This really marks a change for the club.
The golf cart parade. No, this was not on the schedule of  events. We had to take the carts down a public street to a nearby gas station to fuel up several times while we were there. 
When you have an event at a fairgrounds there are often other things going on. This year it was a 4-H goat show. While they are cute, they left a bit of country air smell around there pavilion.
One of the most popular happenings is vendor Paul Evert's RV Country daily 4:30 happy hour. Every day is a different theme from Margarita Monday to Two Shot Thursday. It is always a good time to relax a bit and get caught up with friends. 
Monday evening's entertainment was illusionist Reza. It was a fantastic show of "Shock and Awe" as he made things disappear only to pop up somewhere else on stage. Reza performs over 200 shows a year and travels in an RV, a huge Prevost,, so he really related to the RV crowd.  
I was worried when Nanc got this close that he would make her disappear. This is another act that you should not miss if you get a chance to see him perform.  
One of Nanc's jobs was to pass out kisses to the vendors. I was not sure what that meant, so I followed along one day and was happy to see it was Hershey Kisses she was passing out. 
Tuesday evening is a day for socials and we always get together with our Class of 07 mates. Wow, this year there were only six members and two adoptees. This was by far the smallest group we have ever had. Last year there were nearly 50 of us. Here I am with Terry (Rick was working), Lora, Nanc, John and adoptees Dave and Brenda. Hope next year's Escapade out West will bring more 07 mates.
Wednesday's entertainment was Escapade's Got Talent. There were fifteen great acts, from story and joke telling to some great music. It is wonderful seeing all these SKPs showing off their talent. As you can tell by the orange suit, emcee Jim Koca added to the fun of the evening with his outfit and corny jokes.
Thursday brings the Escapade Hair-Raising Chili Cook-Off. There were eleven chili cookers and, as you can see, it was a very well attended event. There is a People's Choice award for the chili that raises the most money for CARE.
The best chili is selected by a group of experts who must be sequestered away to prevent bias. I delivered samples to the the judges while the Hottest Pepper of them all, Shawn Loring, did his best encouraging people to donate money to CARE. He did a good job as the cook-off raised $1956 for this great Escapees program.
These are all people who were at the rally whom we have met at Betty's RV Park. Top are Bill Jan, Jim and Justine. Bottom are Judy, Danny, Dan, Sue, Richard, Loretta and Ray. I'm sure there were others that I did not see because Betty is very popular with Escapees. 
Thursday afternoon is the closing ceremony. It is always well attended as the grand prizes are given away. This year's prizes were for two people to attend the Rose Parade (a $1990 value) presented by the Escapees RV Club and from Adventure Caravan for two people to attend an eight day Chicago rally (a $4595 value). It is great that the sponsors and vendors offer such support and prizes for the rally. Pictured here (left to right) are a few of  the national staff; Teresa, Shawn, J.P., Travis, Melanie and Cathy.
In the past the closing ceremony was, as you would expect, the last event of the week. This year they added an evening street festival with a great local band, food vendors, craft beer and local wines. 
Most of us where pretty worn out at this point so it was a great time to just kick back and relax. National staff members Georgianne, Teresa, Melanie, JP and Shawn enjoying the festival. 
If you forgot your chairs, you could gather on the steps to have a cold one, enjoy the food, and share experiences with friends.
Jim, Travis and Mark showing how worn out we are at this point with Dead Guy Ales. 
After the sun set we went to the grandstands for the fireworks. The street festival was a great way to relax and visit with friends one last time before we all headed out in different directions to explore the country and was also a great ending to a great Escapade.
Friday morning dawned hot and sunny.  Not a great day to have to tear down and load everything that the Escapees brought to Sedalia from headquarters in Livingston. The trailer holds 26 of the carriers that must be brought from the buildings where they were used. Then they are loaded and secured in place for shipping.
Jim, John and Duane had it all done by 3:30 that afternoon. By the time we were done we were toast. The temperature when I got in the car read 105 and, while it was not that hot outside, it was that hot inside the trailer where we were working.
One last dinner Saturday evening before we hit the road on Sunday. While it is not an easy job, we had a great time being on staff and contributing to make the Escapade a great experience for all those who attend. Next year's event does not fit into our travel schedule so we will not be in Tucson in March. 
Our plan was to go quickly from Sedalia to Michigan where we had a service appointment scheduled. We had planned to spend one night in Springfield, IL but when we got there we realized how tired we were so we decided to stay for three days. Look who showed up! Escapade parking crew members, Jan and Skip and Escapade Directors, Jean and Duane. We had a nice evening just relaxing after a very busy time. 
On a sad note, while we were in Springfield we learned that our dear friend, Tom Ridge, passed away while he and Georgie were vacationing in North Carolina. We were able to leave Opus at Spartan Chassis in Michigan, where the service was being done, and drive the CRV to WashPA for Tom's memorial service. We are going to spend a week here to support Georgie before we head back to Michigan to pick up the RV. This is a picture of us with Tom and Georgie on Hatteras Island last fall.  


John and Lora said...

Wonderful recap!! And we sure enjoy working with you two🤗🤗. Safe travels until our paths cross again!

Palamine said...

Some day we absolutely must get to an Escapade. Looks like so much fun.

Sorry about your friend. :(

Judy Rinehimer said...

Thank you for the great insider's summary of Escapade. Unfortunately, we missed this year's gathering but plan to return next year to Tucson. Sorry we will miss you.
Sad for the loss of your friend but your attendance at his Memorial was wonderful support for his widow.
(((HUGS))) -- CoolJudy and Luke Rinehimer

Jan Mains said...

It was so good to see you two again. Great write up about the Escapade.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Good report on the Escapade! You two are working too hard.