Make us your home page

RV rally participants like Hernando, but will follow if event moves

BROOKSVILLE — You might describe Rudy and Betty Roggenkamp as ultimate RVers.

Every winter, they load up their 36-foot Bounder motor home and head south from Vernon, Conn., to Florida. One of the couple's prime stop-offs has been the annual Southeast Area rally of the Family Motor Coach Association, south of Brooksville.

During their weeklong stay, the Roggenkamps spend money. Lots of it. They shop in local grocery stores, buy fuel for their motor home and try to make at least a couple of visits to their favorite local restaurant, the Masaryktown Cafe on U.S. 41.

"It's a very comfortable place for us," said Betty Roggenkamp, 81. "We love the area, and people here have always been friendly to us."

As this year's rally got under way Wednesday, news that organizers are considering moving the event next year from its 15-year home at Brooksville-Tampa Regional Airport to the Volusia County Fairgrounds wasn't greeted with enthusiasm by the Roggenkamps, who have been making the annual trek for the past eight years.

Nonetheless, the couple, like many others who spoke Wednesday to the Times, said they will likely go wherever the event goes.

"We'll have to, if we want to see our friends," said Bob Saunders, 79, of Port Charlotte, who along with his wife, Carol, has attended the event since 2004. "I like the area, but I'm not sure it makes much difference where they hold it. RV people go because of the event, not necessarily the location."

The rally, which runs through Sunday, has always meant an economic boon to Hernando County. Up until a few years ago, the rally typically drew upward of 2,000 motor coaches from throughout the eastern United States. This year's event is expected to attract about 800 coaches.

The decline in attendance has been cause for concern among officers of the motor coach group, who fear that they may be forced to scale back the event in order to make ends meet. Last week, representatives from the association's Southeast region told Hernando County officials that the rising cost of producing the event has outpaced what it takes in at the gate and from vendor space rental.

Southeast chapter president Ralph Marino said the association spends upward of $30,000 a year to rent tents, part of the reason why the group has entered into negotiations with the Volusia County Fair Association to relocate the event to the fairgrounds there.

According to Marino, the fair association's offer includes the use of three permanent buildings, plus other amenities that are not available at the Hernando airport site.

"Not having a permanent building for meetings and activities has been a concern for us for a long time," Marino said. "It's forced us to add expenses we don't feel we need to have."

In the wake of last week's meeting, Hernando County officials agreed to extend the motor coach group's lease through September and to gather information on what it might take to find another hangar for the group to use during its annual rally. They also plan to explore possible construction of a building that could be used by the motor coach group and other organizations that host events at the airport throughout the year.

However, Marino said he's not certain his group can wait much longer to make a decision. He said the association's national executive board will meet Monday in Brooksville to discuss the matter.

"It's unfair to us to keep the (Volusia County) fairgrounds in limbo," Marino said. "We have a lot to do to get ready for next year, and we generally start working on that right after the rally."

Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Logan Neill can be reached at or (352) 848-1435.

RV rally participants like Hernando, but will follow if event moves 02/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 3:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members


    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion


    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times


    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]