2019 Grand National Rally Forest City, IA

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Mile High

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Don't know how many of you attended, but the 2019 Winnebago GNR this year was fantastic!  Entertainment was super, weather was good, and the general atmosphere was fun!  About 850+ attended, a little down from previous years, which actually made the Vendors a little more accessible for service work.  Our neighbor had free service from Thetford to repair an AC, Carefree to replace an awning motor, Kwikee repaired a step, Blue Ox rebuilt his tow bar, and even MCD shades came to his coach and adjusted some of his shades.  I had Winegaurd do a field repair and help from Lippert.  Not saying that makes the rally, but sure nice perks when added to the seminars, entertainment, and meeting some new friends.
 

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John Canfield

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Attendance is slowing declining over the years, I think there used to be 1100 -1200 rigs at the usual GNR. I  noticed Winnebago is now "partnering" with Fantasy Tours - thus smells like they want to exit the tour business.  New management is going to continue to turn the business upside down (in a manner of speaking). My guess is the GNR might eventually become a casualty of reducing expenses.
 

winona

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I agree with John.  Losing the magazine and the contact with other clubs and outings, the partnering with Fantasy Tours and some other changes don't bode well.  Not sure where Winnebago is heading.  Our only contact is with our area reps once a year, so I hope they take back what we say --- not that it will change much.
 

John Hilley

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I see no value at all in WIT membership. FMCA and Escapees both put out decent useful magazines and provide discount programs that are useful. Escapees has many RV parks includng CARE at Livingston, TX.

I was at one GNR where there were over 1400 motorhomes. The seminars have never been on a par with FMCA and Escapees, however the discussion with seminar attendees provided a lot of useful information.

We have a WIT state club in North Dakota and we would have a lot more members if WIT membership weren't required. We just had our August campout this week in New Rockford, ND. We can't get new mmbers to join and each campout sees fewer attending do to health. For this campout, two that were planning on attending, couldn't make it because of falls. One reulted in broken hip the other a broken arm.

We loose potential members to a club loosely affiliated with Good Sam, the parent organization now essentially dead.

We have one member who has been going to GNR since the first one.

We live only 500 miles from Forest City, but GNR would cost at least $1,000 to attend.
 

JakeR

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We were there and we agree with you.  Nice to get some free work done, learned quite a bit at the various seminars we attended, the entertainment was excellent and overall the weather was great.  It was a worthwhile event to attend in my opinion.  Now the weather for the pre-GNR was the pits!! 8)
 

John Canfield

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Been AWOL since a week ago, I had total shoulder joint replacement last Tuesday. Only one night in the hospital thank goodness.

It didn't dawn on me that Winnebago dropped the WIT magazine.  No great loss, I was mostly interested in the service tips. Same thing happened when I worked for AT&T,  the employee magazine was dropped as the company began a significant expense reduction era.

The GNR is great for new owners who need specific information about their unit, an FMCA rally is amazing experience for all things RV related.
 

ChasA

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John,  both my shoulders have been replaced. The right one twice. I've been doing therapy for 3 years and still cannot raise either arm above shoulder height.  I certainly hope you fare better.
 

John Canfield

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ChasA said:
John,  both my shoulders have been replaced. The right one twice. I've been doing therapy for 3 years and still cannot raise either arm above shoulder height.  I certainly hope you fare better.
Oh my  :eek: .

My first physical therapy session is later this morning, I know it's going to be a long haul. A very long haul. Before surgery, I couldn't raise my bad (left) arm more than 90 degrees or above parallel to the ground. Pain in the shoulder would wake me up at night so I'm hoping for a considerable improvement.

Thanks for the well wishes John!
 

winona

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John Canfield said:
Been AWOL since a week ago, I had total shoulder joint replacement last Tuesday. Only one night in the hospital thank goodness.

It didn't dawn on me that Winnebago dropped the WIT magazine.  No great loss, I was mostly interested in the service tips. Same thing happened when I worked for AT&T,  the employee magazine was dropped as the company began a significant expense reduction era.

The GNR is great for new owners who need specific information about their unit, an FMCA rally is amazing experience for all things RV related.

My experience: my first year at GNR was okay but much of what was covered didn't and doesn't apply to a Class C.  I also found that our row of small units was invisible to the higher-ups.  They seemed to focus on what I call the Brad Paisley models, the big big class A's.
 

John Canfield

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winona said:
Oh -- John, good luck with your shoulder!  Hope for speedy recovery!
Thanks! After chatting with my physical therapist during intake,  I'm very encouraged. I already had a good range of motion,  he was surprised. I'm very active on the ranch and regularly lift 50 pound bags of feed, bales of hay, etc. so that's really going to help recovery.
 

Mile High

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winona said:
My experience: my first year at GNR was okay but much of what was covered didn't and doesn't apply to a Class C.  I also found that our row of small units was invisible to the higher-ups.  They seemed to focus on what I call the Brad Paisley models, the big big class A's.
I've been to the last two - and would probably need to disagree.  Although the large percentage of participants are the large Class As, they are like dinosaurs out there compared to the GNR focus on the Class B and MinnieBs.  To me, with a Class A tag axle, I felt a little out of place because the factory doesn't make them any more, none of the displays were related to mine, and many of the Vendors and Seminars were specific to the Mercedes chassis and smaller units. 

I personally thought this years GNR was great - super entertainment, tons of activities, tours, and a general good attitude from the employees and WIT.  I haven't been to FMCA, but I will say the GNR attraction is that its all about Winnebago and it's right there at the factory.  I don't think you could get that focus from FMCA.
 

John Canfield

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Mile High said:
.....  To me, with a Class A tag axle, I felt a little out of place because the factory doesn't make them any more, none of the displays were related to mine, and many of the Vendors and Seminars were specific to the Mercedes chassis and smaller units. .....
Holy cow! I just looked at the Winnebago website and there are exactly two Class A diesels - the Horizon and the entry level Forza. Wow  :eek: . I suppose that's a reaction to the softening RV market.
 

Mile High

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John Canfield said:
Holy cow! I just looked at the Winnebago website and there are exactly two Class A diesels - the Horizon and the entry level Forza. Wow  :eek: . I suppose that's a reaction to the softening RV market.
The CEO gave a good presentation at GNR.  My take on what he said - they were in trouble 2-3 years ago when he started.  From nearly $2 billion down to $400 million and vulnerable to a buy-out by Thor or the like.  His marching orders were to diversify, hence the purchase of Grand Design, Chris Craft, and expansion of the towable market which was saving their bacon.  They want to become a Thor rather than be part of Thor.

Other haunts for them included the inability to get Mercedes Chassis for 2 years and a consequential slip in production of Minnie Bs, and the boondoggle at Junction City that just didn't pay out like they hoped.  Expanding the pusher production is not high on the priority, as most of the motorized production lines are currently catching up on the backorder of Minnie Bs now that the Mercedes chassis is flowing. 

Forza is doing well.  There are no Horizons in production right now in Forest City, pending the final move from Junction City.  I think this very unique Horizon that rolled out of Junction City before it closed represents the last from there, sitting on an unused Grand Tour chassis with Ultra Steer and independent front suspension (never offered as options on Horizon).  One of a kind for a while probably.  https://www.lichtsinn.com/product/new-2020-winnebago-horizon-42q-1034935-10
 

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John Canfield

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Thanks for that report, it puts things in perspective now.  I was always puzzled about the Junction City adventure, it didn't seem like a good fit to me. Hopefully their new(ish) CEO will lead them in the right direction.
 
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