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Hundreds of Monaco motor coach members gathering in Willmar for 3-day convention

WILLMAR -- Owners of Monaco motor coaches will get together at the Willmar Civic Center from Monday night through Friday as a prelude to a larger convention one week later in St. Paul.

Wade Myers, president of Monaco International, expects 300 Monaco coaches from around the country, with at least two people per coach, along with another 50 display and vendor-owned coaches.

Myers says Monaco service technicians will be present during the week to sell and service coaches. Members will attend a welcome party Monday night, have breakfast and dinner together each day, attend seminars and visit the city.

They're gathering in Willmar for what organizers say is a pre-rally to the Family Motor Coach Association convention July 14-17 at the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul, where 2,400 to 2,500 coaches of all brands are expected.

Monaco International, representing over 4,000 coaches, is a chapter of the Family Motor Coach Association, which represents 116,000 to 117,000 coaches.

The association holds two conventions per year, and the Monaco group holds a pre-rally before each convention, said Myers.

Myers said many Monaco members will drive in a caravan to the St. Paul convention.

"It'll make a pretty long line down the highway,'' he said.

Myers is full time with the Monaco group. He and his wife sold their home in Leesburg, Fla., eight years ago and live in their motor coach.

Rally master Cari Mitchell of Hastings says members gather to discuss their frustrations and joys with motor coaches.

"It's a great social network,'' she said. "We have made many close friends from all over the country, just by having these rallies, and we stay in touch throughout the year.''

Mitchell highly recommends both spouses be trained to drive their motor coach in the event one of the drivers is unable to take the wheel.

Mitchell says she enjoys seeing the country from the road instead of flying.

"There's a lot in our country, beautiful scenery, unique places to stop that you would not see by just flying from airport to airport,'' she said.

The Christian music festival Sonshine is normally held during the week that Monaco is at the Civic Center.

However, Sonshine agreed to delay its event by one week to let Monaco members hold their pre-rally and drive afterward to the convention in St. Paul, said Myers.

He said the public may come out to the Civic Center to look at the coaches, but must pay admission to attend the events.

Mitchell said the people from Willmar "have been wonderful to work with. Very Minnesota nice.''

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150