BROOKSVILLE — The RVs are expected to begin parading into Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport today.
By Wednesday morning, when the Family Motor Coach Association's 50th annual Southeast Area rally officially opens, hundreds of the homes on wheels are expected to be lined up on the airport property for the five-day event.
"We're budgeted for 800 coaches," said new area president Ralph Marino of Lake Wales, a 25-year member of the association.
Last year, the rally attracted some 1,200 coaches.
"We're down this year due to the economy and the age of the people traveling," Marino said.
It will be the 15th rally at the Hernando airport, and possibly the last. The Times revealed last week that organizers are in negotiations to relocate to the Volusia County Fairgrounds, though Hernando officials are also working to keep the rally here.
In the meantime, the 2013 affair will boast at least 125 vendors of goods, gadgets and gustables, plus seven dealerships showcasing 60 RV models.
In addition to the occupied RVs parked at the airport, day and multi-day passes are available for visitors.
A $7-per-person day pass or a $10 three-day pass admits a visitor to the under-tent and outdoor vendor areas and dealer displays. A $109 three-day passport also includes admission to seminars, workshops and evening entertainment.
Gates open daily at 8 a.m. Programming runs until 5 p.m.
Vendors hawk RV parts and services, coach furnishings, accessories, maintenance goods and decor, as well as campsites, tours, destinations, clothing, jewelry and craft supplies. There's something new each year.
Food vendors range from hot and cold beverages to snacks, sandwiches, hand foods, hot platters and sweets. Hernando providers will be present.
The Knights of Columbus draw the hungry with spaghetti and meatballs or sausage and corned beef with cabbage. Dentico's Tropical Grill of Spring Hill, a newcomer, will serve up Italian sausage and hoagies. First-timer Linda's Ice Cream & Snacks will offer frosty treats and sweets.
Seminars at three sites sometimes compete for one's attention, so they often are repeated on different days and at various times.
Any topic having to do with RV mechanics is popular, Marino said. They include diesel engines, electric systems and inverters. Also offered are safe driving classes, coach weighing and crafts instruction — the latter with so many and varied pursuits that they occupy a tent of their own.
With this year's rally theme, "Salutes the Military," there will be special raffles, with proceeds going to Lea's Prayers and Postage in Hernando County and to the national Wounded Warriors Project.
Lea's was established in memory of Marine Sgt. Lea R. Mills of Masaryktown, killed in Iraq in 2006, with contributions paying for postage to send gift packages to those serving in the military overseas.
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]