Florida State Winnie-Gators
March 2004 State Rally

Our Strawberry Festival State Rally was an outstanding success attended by 374 rigs from 30 states including 1 from Canada and 1 from England. The rally began with strawberry shortcake, courtesy of Camping World, and continued with more strawberry calories throughout the 3 day event. The weather was perfect until the last day when an impending storm cut short the Winnie Berry Pooch Parade, and the heavy rain produced many puddles the next morning. It was rumored this was one of the best rallies we have ever had....all because of so many who worked very hard to put on this rally!

Over 30 vendors showed their wares, and an equal number of seminars were held to teach everyone how to give their rigs lots of TLC. 4 Florida dealers brought many beautiful rigs for everyone to dream about: Harberson Swanston from Holiday, Al’s RV from Ft. Pierce, Lazdays from Seffner, and Suncoast from Winter Garden. We always appreciate their support both with the rigs they bring to our meetings and their financial contributions to the operation of the rally and to door prizes. Games were run by South Florida Winnies, and the winners were: Charles Zucher from Long Island, Gene Bennett from California, and Rich Richards from New York. The Arts & Craft show was run by Suncoast Winnies, and the Best of Show was by Suncoast Loretta Mayer with her carved wooden elephants. Three money hats were designed and worn by Suncoast Cindy Davis and Linda Tuzzolo, and Mid Florida Winnie Ruth Monzillo. Winners were: Funtimer Ted Meekma, and Spacecoaster Jean Stover. The five $50 gift certificate winners from Lazydays were: Erich Ruckert from New Jersey, Royce Ashley from Missouri, and Floridians Richard Headley and Eugene Vanaman. The Basket of Cheer was put together by the Mid-Florida Winnies, and the winner was New Yorker Jim Carney. Door prizes were under the direction of Du-Bol Winnie Eddie Jones and friends!

Mid-Florida ran the pre-rally Bingo, and the Mid-Florida Strummers, a dulcimer band, asked for string players to join them but the event became a performance instead. They always put on a good show. Finally, there are those calories again...ice cream and strawberry shortcake servers were from Funtimers, and the wine and cheese servers were Ocala Sunbirds. Breakfast servers were from the Panhandle Winnies. The Cake Walk was run by the “dancing” Cajuns from Mid-Florida. Many cakes found their way into the happy arms of winners. Strawberry Daquiries were served 2 afternoons by Suncoast RV dealership. The last night tables were decorated by the Buccanneers, and the Du-bol table and chair arrangers were very efficient in their task. Perhaps most important of all were the folks from Seaside who greeted everyone at the gate with big smiles and cloth strawberries, and the folks from Sunshine and Big Bend adeptly helped the rigs into their sites. Finally the Spacecoast people handled the Registration Tables with goody bags, name tags, rosters and pins.

All of the very cute pooches in the dog parade deserved a prize but two winners were selected: Heidi, a dachshund owned by Rhode Islander Helen Jette was dressed in a fetching strawberry dress and matching hat, and handsome Rascal, owned by Du-Bol Joe Norman, was dressed in a red shirt with a strawberry visor and sunglasses. If a prize had been given for the most obedient dog, Rascal would have won!

Did we have entertainment?  Of course!  Sonny LaRosa's Jazz Band kept us entertained for almost Two hours (without music to play from).  They were unbelievably young and talented.  Gary Means was amazing with his Parables in Pastels.  His two pictures were raffled and the winners were Ed Clemenzi from Florida and Bev Smalley from Ontario, Canada.  The last night "The Andrew Sisters," three talented young singers, took everyone down memory lane in song.

Keep us in mind for next year's rally...theme is "The Wonders of Florida", and the dates are March 19-22, 2005.