Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Greg Lalonde » Thu May 11, 2017 7:41 pm

hello chuck. me name is greg lalonde.i have read your posts and i am sure you are not the only one who had a negative experience during the meet at petaluma.its not a perfect world,but we try to adapt to the situation.and with your in depth concerns about how the meet worked out for you,might help other people who had the same experiences try to make it work next year.i to loved tower park,i loved camping out in the dry camp area,which i called dog patch.the new dog patch is now called the( swamp,)and for good reason.i had to adapt.change is sometimes hard.lets all give it a chance.this a great club as you know,with great members.it will all work out,it always does. so come buy the swamp next year and ill buy you a beer.sincerely greg l.

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by kody » Thu May 11, 2017 10:24 pm

Wanted to chime In here with my 2 cents worth. I hadn't had time read up much on exactly what all was going on with this beyond the location had moved. So I get there about 8am after driving 3 hours park and get out of the truck when one of the camp employees walks up and asks if we're there for the show tell him yes and he says that we aren't allowed to go in till we pay the $10 a head for the arm bands and the office dosent open till 10:00 well I only had plans to stay no later than 10 as I had places I needed to be. I came to see friends I only see once or twice a year and maybe buy some stuff. So I wait about 10 minutes and walk on in. I think the biggest problem that this camp has is the lack of parking and the charging to get in. Next year I wI'll look more carefully at the event information and if they are still charging I probably won't be going. I realize the shuttle costs money however the campground is also getting ALOT more money by simply having their sites sold out rather than the handful they may have had if the show was not there. Also i sometimes bring my jeep up with me for the day from the impression i am getting i would not be allowed to drive it in the park without a pass and the only way i can get that is to have a space. I think this has the potential to be a good location after some bugs are worked out. Thanks to all who spent many hours finding a location to make it possible for this year.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Fri May 12, 2017 11:36 pm

Back from business trips, want to address some things you said, Chuck. Some have made good points already. I will put some additional replies/comments in red within what you said below, and tomorrow I will address some other things you said on one of your later posts.
Chuck Lutz wrote:OK, here is how it went down for me...
1) I picked up Jody Larkins who flew into Oakland at the Petaluma Airporter after picking up Mike O'Connell at SFO that morning.
2) I had my little G529 packed with goodies to sell and would be sleeping in my truck, the others at the big tent we share and the motel
3) Got to the Front Desk about 12 or 1pm and checked in.
4) Signed the guys in on my reg. form and Keith who would be coming in his SUV later on, I left him a wristband and parking pass.

so far, so good....

5) two hours later, Keith comes trudging up the $%#@ hill and says he got his wristband but his parking pass was only for the boondocks and he couldn't park in my space.
Right. KOAs across the country limit cars per campsite. You gave him the parking pass that was for the lot near KOA office, not the one you received for your campsite. That lot was usually full, meaning offsite parking for your guest. We are working on fitting more participant vehicles into campsites, and making the event more friendly for day visitors.
6) I did the only possible thing I could think of....I removed the parking pass from my rear view mirror and gave it to him like any normal person would do.
7) I did note that the golf cart Polizei were taking notes when they came around that my truck had the pass but Keith's did not. I'm sure someone will make a big deal out of THAT! IF they were taking notes, they didn't act on it did they?

I came to SELL...I did not come to browse and buy so aside from trips to the latrine and my one walk down to Jo-Ann's cabin to get signed up for Fall 2017 and Spring 2018, I never left the site.

I sold stuff, but every buyer had an MVCC name tag on (GOOD! Was their money good?) ....there were no non-members and certainly none of the public we usually get came around! We will be working on making this event better for those who do not have a campsite and for day-users who have not read our pre-event information. Vendors who want the most traffic will move to where it is, OR advertise to shoppers to go wherever the vendor is, like on your hill. Build a destination and they will come???

Ten bucks to enter? Advertised! And newbies would have expected an admission fee, right? Popular KOAs with day-user attractions can and do charge fees. But we will work on that. Personally I'd like to see no fee. No Senior discount? No Kids Free? Shuttle starts at 10am? Shuttle times, days - we will try to correct. . Waiting for the shuttle for half hour or longer? Shuttles were publicized every half hour. I know of one guy from Napa who just turned around and left. I heard another who came to pick up parts from a vendor was equally pissed off about that and left. That was ignorance. New venue. We'll work on that.

Exactly WHERE and WHO got the ten bucks anyway? The KOA or what?
As said elsewhere, KOA charged it to discouraged too much traffic, especially to the "curious" due to lack of parking on-site with the big fields being too soft. They thought traffic would have bound up at the gate. This number of mid-week day users we expected was a communication problem between KOA and us. We think this is mostly fixable. Some of the revenue went to shuttles and additional personnel, and the rest went to EMU, Inc (Huey non-profit) as a donation. KOA owner really likes them.

I am considering not staying at the KOA next year at all....you pay two hundred bucks for three nights as I always do?
Hey, I live about 12-13 miles from the place so maybe I'll pass on it all and just day-trip for a day or two. That's ten or twenty bucks and I can still enjoy the social scene with my friends and probably set up a table to sell in their spot.

The thrill (for me) is gone....
More comments on the comments tomorrow......
Last edited by John Neuenburg on Sun May 14, 2017 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Sat May 13, 2017 1:54 am

More answers and comments...
Chuck Lutz wrote:Dave....the shuttle was only on Fri/Sat? Why not 8-5pm every day from Wed through Sunday since we had a "four day minimum"? Starting at 10am as I was told was not a good idea.
Yes, will be different next year.
Chuck Lutz wrote:How many vehicles were doing shuttle work and is that why some people complained after 30 minutes that it did not come?
Should have been about a 30 minute interval.
Chuck Lutz wrote:I dig the Huey also, but is the purpose of the Huey to sell rides to the club and the public
NO! Their mission is stated on their website www.hueyvets.com. They give rides to their members. You can be a member.
Chuck Lutz wrote: , then why not charge that "fee" as a part of the Huey package? I kinda woulda liked to see one or two non-members wandering around but I didn't. Making 90% of the potential visitors to the meet fork over ten bucks for a helicopter they would not be riding in is not in my estimation the best way to go, sorry but that's my opinion here.
Going down the wrong rabbit hole here....
Chuck Lutz wrote:I get it...on the 40th Anny we had NO place to go! So Petaluma KOA was a compromise. It worked for some, it did not work for others. As the ages of the long-time club members gets higher and mobility becomes an issue, flat ground is not a benefit it is a necessity! I'm surprised we didn't have at least one heart attack this year with the up/down hill climbs you needed to go out and visit friends. There used to be a map of the TP KOA at registration back in the day so you could find people which I did not see this year, maybe I missed it. I don't have the phone number of everyone I am used to saying Hi to and checking out their parts stuff or vehicles so I missed that.

Perfection probably ain't gonna happen bro. We'll do the best we can do.
Chuck Lutz wrote:look....I applaud the work it takes to find and secure a place for the club and to negotiate on the members behalf, don't for a minute think I don't acknowledge that....but a simple "one page" on "How To Do Petaluma KOA" in the previous months newsletter we could tear out and take with us might have prevented a lot of confusion at their Checkpoint Charlie registration area.
See previously posted reference info on this thread as posted on MVCC website and G503.com
Chuck Lutz wrote:So...here are my Top Ten suggestions for next year to be negotiated with Woody NOW....
1) Issue parking tags to each space for more than ONE vehicle and for every MV they bring
2) The wristband thing was pointless, useless, and a PITA
3) Signage directing us to the sites on the left and down on the dry camping flats to the right and basically AWAY from the spaces held back for long term rentals there would have been helpful.
4) A "bulletin board" at the Pavilion or wherever that weekly/daily events and schedules and a map of who is where should be added to help people figure out a new location for friends and acquaintenances. We all knew TP like the back of our hand....people were wandering around this KOA surprised to find us.
5) WHAT PBR? A best kept secret to our group!
6) We put eleven people in four campsites this year and have in the past had over fifteen in six at TP so we are used to crowding, how about giving us access in a better way than they did this year? If my guests arrived BEFORE me they could not get into the site to set up anything, they could not even DRIVE in to drop off their gear!
7) I left Keith a parking pass and wristband and he could not get in to park in MY space? That is how we can cram so many people into the number of sites so "the system" failed, that needs to be reviewed as well.
8) I saw the ends of the pull-throughs get the grass damaged....how about we get fifty or sixty orange traffic cones to help alleviate that next time, guys can't even SEE where the road and the grass converge.
9) The swampy parking area will probably be swampy next year....its wetter in Petaluma and it rains in April a lot anyway so having to park in Cleveland isn't an endearing approach to visitors and members' co-campers....I didn't see a SINGLE sign on Wednesday about Registration, parking, shuttles, trash, showers, the fact the pool WASN'T heated or anything...why was that?
10) Somebody send Jo-Ann a case of wine or something....again...if she had not taken over the pre reg this year it would have been a complete disaster.

Finally, tell Woody his restroom cleaners should get a bonus....the one opposite our sites of S-214 through S-217 was cleaned constantly and was always sparkling!

To end this...I think better communications on what we could expect might make the reality of what the KOA has up there a bit better. I know I knew LESS about this KOA than I did the first day we moved into Tower Park in every way.
Rather than go on and on addressing each point above and our plans going forward, I want to say that everybody who has been reading this forum, the Events forum, http://www.MVCCNews.net, and our MVCC newsletter, and the MANY people who personally reconned the facility, should have been informed about most of what has been discussed here. We put much info into the activities flyer which was posted by the restrooms, at the KOA office bulletin board, and was available at KOA check-in. Next year we will add more signage for others. But you all are our core audience and we don't expect to do a lot of hand-holding. Personal responsibility is important.

We appreciate all comments and suggestions - contact us personally - and we will do what we can to make this event work for folks who are looking for a great social AND vendor event. It is not easy moving the largest annual MV gathering and swap meet west of the Mississippi to a new location.
Last edited by John Neuenburg on Sun May 14, 2017 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Sat May 13, 2017 8:07 am

John....we had FOUR campsites. We "group camp" so the overcrowding problems the club has always faced at TP is somewhat eliminated, otherwise we would have needlessly needed this many because they all drove to Petaluma if the "One Car + One Campsite" rule was the way this was to be done. We also had one jeep and two Dodges to cram in there:
Chuck
Keith
Dave
Paulie
Ernie
Mitch
Don & Mike S.

So...we scammed the "system" and got seven civvy vehicles into four sites. That was the best way to do it I guess, or we needed seven campsites which is stupid.

That is SEVEN sites and Since Jo-Ann asked if we could cut down this year from the five we had at TP we did so under the assumption that we could still get those who drove there plus Mike Wright, Mike O'Connell and Jody Larkin who flew in from Kansas, Nebraska and Kentucky respectively to join us as they have in the past.

I didn't "give" Keith anything, the Reg desk had me list myself, Mike O. and Jody on their form and Keith. I explained Keith would arrive an hour or two later and they simply took a wristband, map and parking pass and said he'd be good to go. I never touched it or saw it....sounds like either they gave him the wrong pass or the "system" was not going to work for us or anybody who had more campers arriving to share their space either.

I had no problem selling to club members, you miss the point I guess....where were all the non-members who usually show up and even members who might be day-tripping? Again, the "system" seems to have not worked as it should for access. Hopefully next year that will happen. Personally I want to sell in my space as do two others, we don't want to split up our campers between the sites we have and some vendors wasteland for security reasons and because we LIKE to camp together. I don't buy the "build a destination" idea for vendors, I think the old business model where you walk around and get to see all the vehicles, displays, vendors wares like TP afforded us is the way to go, you can visit along they way if you get your buddy to watch your table for a while or just not uncover your stuff until a little later in the morning.

I don't know what they do at other KOAs but they didn't charge at TP for day trippers/parking. If that was to discourage too much traffic they succeeded and people just drove away. Was that the plan all along? Cram us with reservations in and then try to discourage non-campers from attending? We moved from the middle of nowhere near Lodi to Sonoma county with Highway 101 and a HUGE population very close by...maybe if we didn't make it so dammned hard for non-members to attend, we'd have picked up a few new members? Maybe a handout to non-members explaining the club and how to join would be a good idea. Try to get MORE people in, not drive them away...literally!

Here's the deal....if the problems the club had at Petaluma are not aired out then they won't GET fixed, don't blame the messenger for the bad news about things that did not go as expected/planned/used to or should have. Let's try to solve those problems and move forward. If more guys share their problems then maybe they can be addressed as well.

For me...I need to see whatever "changes" can and will be made [color=#FF0000]BEFORE[/color] I plunk down my deposit for 2018 or like I said, I'll just day-trip because this wasn't working for eleven of us this year very well.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Sat May 13, 2017 8:07 am

John....we had FOUR campsites. We "group camp" so the overcrowding problems the club has always faced at TP is somewhat eliminated, otherwise we would have needlessly needed this many because they all drove to Petaluma if the "One Car + One Campsite" rule was the way this was to be done. We also had one jeep and two Dodges to cram in there:
Chuck
Keith
Dave
Paulie
Ernie
Mitch
Don & Mike S.

So...we scammed the "system" and got seven civvy vehicles into four sites plus three MVs. That was the best way to do it I guess, or we needed seven campsites which is stupid.

That is SEVEN sites and since Jo-Ann asked if we could cut down this year from the five we had at TP we did so under the assumption that we could still get those who drove there plus Mike Wright, Mike O'Connell and Jody Larkin who flew in from Kansas, Nebraska and Kentucky respectively to join us as they have in the past.

I didn't "give" Keith anything, the Reg desk had me list myself, Mike O. and Jody on their form and Keith. I explained Keith would arrive an hour or two later and they simply took a wristband, map and parking pass and said he'd be good to go. I never touched it or saw it....sounds like either they gave him the wrong pass or the "system" was not going to work for us or anybody who had more campers arriving to share their space either.

I had no problem selling to club members, you miss the point I guess....where were all the non-members who usually show up and even members who might be day-tripping? Again, the "system" seems to have not worked as it should for access. Hopefully next year that will not happen. Personally I want to sell in my space as do two others, we don't want to split up our campers between the sites we have and some vendors wasteland for security reasons and because we LIKE to camp together. I don't buy the "build a destination" idea for vendors, I think the old business model where you walk around and get to see all the vehicles, displays, vendors wares like TP afforded us is the way to go, you can visit along they way if you get your buddy to watch your table for a while or just not uncover your stuff until a little later in the morning.

I don't know what they do at other KOAs but they didn't charge at TP for day trippers/parking. If that was to discourage too much traffic they succeeded and people just drove away. Was that the plan all along? Cram us with reservations in and then try to discourage non-campers from attending? We moved from the middle of nowhere near Lodi to Sonoma county with Highway 101 and a HUGE population very close by...maybe if we didn't make it so dammned hard for non-members to attend, we'd have picked up a few new members? Maybe a handout to non-members explaining the club and how to join would be a good idea. Try to get MORE people in, not drive them away...literally!

Here's the deal....if the problems the club had at Petaluma are not aired out then they won't GET fixed, don't blame the messenger for the bad news about things that did not go as expected/planned/used to or should have. Let's try to solve those problems and move forward. If more guys share their problems then maybe they can be addressed as well.

For me...I need to see whatever "changes" can and will be made BEFORE I plunk down my deposit for 2018 or like I said, I'll just day-trip because this wasn't working for eleven of us this year very well.
Chuck Lutz

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by JOHNJRV » Sat May 13, 2017 9:39 am

Hi Chuck,

Your not the only one that had issues at Camp Petaluma, so did board members, the new location did not discriminate. I could only get one pass for my truck and military vehicle, I tried and tried but the desk would not budge. Myself, Secretary of the MVCC, my wife, Treasure of the MVCC and Don Gome, VP Central Valley all had issues, but we did the best we could with the new employees. Its important to note that this was not just a first for us, moving into a new place, but it really was an experience for the KOA in Petaluma. The owner was nervous as you could tell, due to not knowing what to expect. And he did have to hire new staff to handle the incoming people on Wednesday and his new staff weren't trained as well as his regular employees. I guess what Im trying to say is that everything you have brought up has been experienced by the board as well. We have all taken down notes on what to work on for next year.

I don't want to bum anyone out but I do believe all KOA's are officially charging people to come in for day use. I do believe Tower Park KOA was gona start doing the same thing before it was sold. And hopefully Yogi Bears Jellystone don't charge for parking and entrance fee as I've heard a rumor of. Unfortunately times are changing.

And, unfortunately I don't believe the KOA in Petaluma needs us as much as we need them, so its gona be a tight rope to walk in negotiating. True, we do rent a lot of his spaces, but he does that either way, we don't get the impression he's hungry for more business. But I do get a good feeling that many of the things could be worked out in time for next year.

Chuck, I think its fantastic that your friends are coming from out of state! The more the merrier! I like meeting new people! We were sadden that we heard rumors of people being turned away. That's terrible. There were also rumors the owner of KOA fired a couple of his employees during our stay, so I guess both sides were having issues. BUT, both sides agreed to make it work and for the most part succeeded in a tough transition. I do hope your friends come back again next year Chuck and do introduce them to your Secretary and Treasure at the MVCC Booth!

I do hope everyone gives Camp Petaluma a chance at success like they did Patterson, Big Bear and Tower Park. And hey, if anyone should find a bigger better place I'd love to hear about it, contact me personally, even if your not sure of the place and don't want to say anything on the public forum you can email me or call me anytime.

We have met some great people and made great friends at the MVCC events and want to see it continue and grow.

My experience on the board has been that it wants to continue to grow and continue to make the April meet the BEST it can be. Its a major bummer when things don't go accordingly, but its not for a lack of trying that's for sure.

Lastly, do keep the ideas & thoughts coming and your club is always looking for volunteers! :wink:
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by 199th MP » Sun May 14, 2017 4:23 am

johnjrv, would there be any chance of using the Pleasanton fairgrounds, like the last convention did? is the set up there amenable to the type of use the club needs?

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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by JOHNJRV » Sun May 14, 2017 8:19 am

Hi 199th MP,

Good question, thank you for asking. The Pleasanton Fairgrounds cost the MVPA $58,000 in rental fees for 3 days use for the 2016 Convention and that was for basically 4 buildings, a parking lot and some patches of grass. The Cal Expo Fairgrounds would basically be the same thing, I think the Stanislaus Fairgrounds would be cheaper but still not cheap. None of the fairgrounds have showers, cabins or enough hook ups for RV's. The Club President has been to all those Fairgrounds inquiring. He told me he had put 3,500 miles on his vehicle traveling following leads on a place that would be decent for the MVCC Meet. The MVCC budget for renting a place for a Military Vehicle Meet is $0. We are a non profit club so we wouldn't even come close to having that kind of money to rent a fairgrounds. The KOA in Petaluma and what used to be Tower Park cost the club $0 to rent as all the members would rent their own places and therefore pay the Park themselves.

Things club members want at a location are;

-RV hook ups, space to sell stuff at their sights.
-Places to park their cars and military vehicles.
-Cabins.
-A "pavilion" where everyone can meet up.
-Enough spaces for everyone in the club (well over 300 spaces are needed).
-Places to drive their MV's.
-Convoy possibilities.
-A place that's near a town with attractions.
-Access for the public to come in and be apart of the experience and shop.
-Places for the public to park.
-A place with trees.
-A place with clean restrooms, showers and flat land so they don't have to walk up hills.
-A place near a hotel for those that don't like to stay at the park.
-A place with no entrance fees or parking fees.
-A place for venders.
-I've even had 4 requests that what ever place we pick be near a hospital for medical reasons.
-A place that is centrally located for those that drive from Canada up North, from Nevada to the East and Southern California and Arizona South East. Preferably near I-5 or HWY 99.

The list goes on and they are all good points and we will always keep all of that in mind when looking for a place. Right now the bummer part is just finding a place to look at. There aren't many places like what Tower Park used to be. Maybe one will pop up somewhere and one of our members will spot the ideal location. Right now Camp Petaluma is looking really good. And of course the Board and Club President are working on making Petaluma bigger and better till the next "Tower Park" comes along.

The MVCC membership has always adapted and always overcome any obstacle in its path and we will continue to do so because we love our hobby and all of us have made great friendships via our military vehicles...
Last edited by JOHNJRV on Mon May 15, 2017 8:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Mark Tombleson » Sun May 14, 2017 9:44 am

First let me say I don't have a dog in this hunt anymore. I am in Texas now and did not renew my membership.

I did not go to Petaluma because outsiders were told they were not allowed.

viewtopic.php?f=59&t=278626
softskin_driver wrote:I don't normally post here because this forum is not well read by our members. All MVCC members should keep their eye on the newsletters coming out. They will always have the most info on MVCC club events. I have been in contact with Petaluma and have been working with Joann. Once we get some rate info put together, we will let members know the steps to take to get their spot reserved. Step one is already known it is that all campsites will be reserved by going through Joann Lesser. Joann has volunteered to be the MVCC wagon master for our event. Calling the Petaluma KOA will do you no good at this point. This is the same system the MVCC has used for years. We do this to keep claim jumping to a minimum and to give members on a wait list the first crack at sites as they become available. There will not be a non member wait list.
The Dates for next April have been nailed down to April 18-23. I would like to clear up a couple misconceptions. 1. This is a members first club. 2. The MVCC is open to everyone attending our meets. Although space is limited. 3.The four day minimum provides us the best rates and gives the MVCC exclusivity for 85 percent of the Campground with the promise of more.
I want everyone to know it is a big challenge to move a swapmeet the size of Camp Delta but the MVCC board has been working to do just that and feels that Petaluma is the best bet.
Comments please email me.
Because of my long term relationship with the club and lots of individuals in it I see some issues that have been hard to accomplish.

First is getting all who want to show up a place to do that... fewer spots to park and camp are great for those who get them, but not for those who want to come but are shuttled and turned away.

Second is all the amenities that are wanted... I'm no different, I need a place for my truck, enclosed trailer, MZ-1, and since I'm disabled a pass on driving it around in the park.

Third, I would venture a guess that 80% of the MVCC members are within a hundred mile radius of SF. A venue within that are is most likely preferred .

I could go on but you have already made a huge list...

The above three items are just not working out right now so what are the alternatives.

There has been discussion on KOA and other travel parks, fairs and other venues with convention space, but I have no seen anything on places we all have been... military bases. Most of these bases have a soft spot for organizations like the MVCC and I have been to events at most of the bases in the bay area, we know Camp Roberts, Travis... and others like the Camp San Luis Obispo National Guard Base (Military Radio Collectors Group meets there). Some have RV facilities... some not.

The only other thing that comes to mind is what they do in other areas, have a swap meet and vehicle display where everyone can get to it and do your socializing in available parks and hotels in the area.

What are you trying to acomplish here? Almost everyone I ask is they come to these events to buy or sell... socializing is second place and showing off your hardware is third. It is no different at the MVPA Convention. You use to have vendors come from nationwide... how many will come to Petaluma?

Past and present I must be an outsider as I like to socialize and show others my jeep. :D
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Chuck Lutz
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Chuck Lutz » Sun May 14, 2017 10:43 am

John...good to hear that others experienced the same issues (I mean that in a constructive manner!)...so they are aware of how things went down. I think the confusion Mark T. got was that non-members could not RESERVE a site until members needs were addressed. I heard that from others as well. That I do support. Obviously we shared our four sites with several non-MVCC members this year as we always do.

On another note, We had eleven guys in our four sites....I wonder how many members doubled up to provide space/tent room, etc. with others who could not get a space or who were not members/out of state? I know we've hosted Jon Rogers (Aust), Marc Open (UK), Al Brass (NZ) and several Norwegians in our sites at TP over the years which meant we'd have as many as fifteen people in five or six spaces. So I wonder if the 300 sites we need are based on what we used to have available or what we really could use!

I think this method we've used ran right into the KOA approach to cutting down traffic by limiting vehicles in spaces to one civilian and one military which I think is what I heard at one point was their intent. If we are cramming as many campers/cars/MVs as I think we are into the number of spaces we were allotted here as we had at TP then no wonder things got crazy at Registration. In reality, we'd come in with our civvy vehicles and PARK them for the duration in our sites so they weren't cruising around...the MVs were what we always use to cruise around so their solution to congestion was aimed at the wrong vehicles!

Bottom line is the MVCC Spring Meet is billed as the biggest west of the Mississippi....but if you can't get into it in a timely fashion, have to park in Cleveland, wait for a 30-min shuttle and pay ten bucks then those who have been used to none of that will not be very happy about it. We turn away possible new members, make our own members mad and end up with what has always been for me and our guys an absolutely GREAT club event a bummer.

Good news was the bathrooms were constantly cleaned and no garbage overflow at the dumpsters drawing a gazillion flies to them and our campsites across the road.

I used to drive 66 miles to TP, I just drove about 12-13 to Petaluma KOA....I'd drive 100 miles to another TP if the option presented itself and of course as soon as a change of venue was announced I would do a recon and secure spots for our group. When the club announced on a rainy Friday down at Waterford we would be moving to TP I packed up in the rain on Saturday and went home and at 9:00am on Sunday I was at the TP reg desk getting a map to find us some adjoining campsites....and I saw other MVCC guys wandering around doing the same thing!

I agree...we may be screwed with the KOA being the only game in town for what we need to accommodate the Spring meet so compromises are needed....all week I wondered if we'd even be ALLOWED to discuss coming back there for 2018! Now if we are, under what circumstances is the question..."the Devil is in the details" as they say!
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Mark Tombleson » Sun May 14, 2017 11:16 am

How many people showed up both camping and day use over the 4 days?
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John Neuenburg
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Sun May 14, 2017 11:47 am

A FEW RESPONSES TO MARK:

Dave was a bit heavy-handed in that post and it might have given a few people who didn't plan to attend anyway an excuse to not do so. Anybody concerned about anything he said could have asked him about it, or asked Jo-Ann about camping reservation details.

The Spring and Fall meets have been organized and promoted by the MVCC forever, but they are major West Coast meets serving all who are interested. You must know that at every event, MANY campers and commuters from hotels are not MVCC members and many are not from California or even the U.S., especially at the Spring meet. Dave was reacting to the situation where past wait lists for campsites at Tower had non-members ahead of members. Jo-Ann and Dave and Kurt before him would get complaints from members about this. So with this new venue there was a plan to cater to MVCC members first on the wait list, IF ANY, and to invite everybody to be a MVCC member. Many of our 500+ members live outside our primary region (electronic membership only $25, newsletter has color photos by the way, free classified ads for members). I don't know exactly what Jo-Ann was telling non-members wanting to reserve campsites, but this event was like past ones in that non-members got campsites and enjoyed every other aspect of this event, including the big band the MVCC paid for at the Friday night dinner - a big upgrade! Campsites were available up to event week in the dry camping area and probably at numbered sites due to the usual cancellations. Several cabins were available. I believe the wait list was short or non-existent depending on when.

Military bases are interesting but lack the amenities many of our folks want. It is also possible an international situation will close a military base without warning.

Regarding vendors, we want to cater to them and that means make it easier for non-campers to attend. I will talk about this in a post later today. Yes we used to have several big vendors from out of state. RAPCO used to come to Patterson and a number of Big Bear events, and socializing with a certain group of California friends was a motivator too. Brent Mullins also came from Texas to sell at some Big Bear meets. With the advent of internet selling from home, some vendors like them can't justify a cross-country trip. We have some serious vendors from far away who always sell at the Spring meet and we hope they will pay attention to what we have planned for future meets. April will continue to be the biggest annual MV gathering and swap meet west of the Mississippi. And there is also the Fall event at Tower Park!

Mark I miss seeing your jeep, dog, and you. Hope you make it out here someday. You are more than welcome.

NOTE TO 199TH MP:

If you were asking about the fairgrounds in Pleasanton from a camping event perspective rather than big facility rental like Johnny was talking about, read on. When Dave and I were working on the Convention and with the Tower Park situation changing we talked about the possibility of a camping oriented swap meet there. It could be in the Walnut Grove dry camping area, expanding to an field in the orchard if needed, and the 70 RV hookup spots at the west end of the Main Parking Lot. We used these areas for the Convention. Rent is less the farther one is away from the buildings and the east end of the MPL because that's where events in the buildings park their guests. Meaning we could do our thing while other promoters could do theirs in the buildings. In fact for the Convention we didn't rent either camping area. Alameda County Fairgrounds did, and kept the revenue. We could have rented the ground and sold the camping, but chose not to assume the risk.

There are shower/restroom buildings at ACF but across parking lots. Sometimes one or both buildings will be off limits due to other events happening around them. So we'd be looking at renting portable shower units.

The problem with this venue is the hookup RV slots are in a parking lot, and separate from Walnut Grove although not too far away. It is possible to pay for electrical lines to be run in Walnut Grove. We would incur a fencing cost because of security and we would have to man the gates. Portable fencing is not hard for a determined person to unbolt. The bigger the city, the more determined people are out there! A fairgrounds is a good place for a commercial vendor event, ideally using a building for nighttime security. You charge admission and rent vendor tables to pay for the building and tables/chairs. Smaller fairgrounds have lower rents. None have a developed campground like the most basic commercial campground. No cabins.

A campground is nice for vendors because campsite rental is lower than what they'd have to pay for that much space at a show in a building. Most of our vendors own their own tables. Security is less but generally not much of a problem with all of us "good guys" camping nearby. And a vendor who camps has no hotel charge plus socializing opportunities at night in camp.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by John Neuenburg » Sun May 14, 2017 1:17 pm

Good points all. Discussion is good. Anybody who has read this far is interested in news. We have learned a lot about this KOA and the management and we indeed have some things to address. That's the way first time events are. Here are some more observations and background which should help folks understand this important meet.

When the club has to put people on the hunt for a new Spring or Fall meet venue, there are many things we look for. John V. mentioned most of them. Some are mandatory and some less important. The idea is to get the best combination. The Spring meet requires a very large location and many people want RV utilities, so this rules out many places. I was not involved in this search but was pleased with several features of Petaluma KOA. It is in one of the best MV road driving areas in the central to north-central part of CA - so much better than the Tower Park area. Since this is a vehicle club it is important to consider the people who like to drive these things. Probably these great MV roads are one of the reasons Sonoma County has so many MVers, many of whom do not attend our Spring and Fall swap meets. Even the layout of the campground itself was interesting for putting around, was very scenic with the variety of trees, and the hills made it interesting, Some wished they brought their jeep! Most campsites and cabins had fire rings which was nice. There are many restaurant options and services nearby. So this place is a great venue for those whose priority is the social, clubby part of our hobby, and especially those who want to rent a campsite or cabin. It's a great place for couples.

There are two other segments of the hobby we need to consider when we choose a venue: vendors, both pro and amateur, and day users which includes potential new hobbyists. As suggested earlier, vendors looking for maximum exposure can work with Jo-Ann to upgrade their location. There was one who got creative by using a small cabin for its outdoor space at a great location, and co-opping with a person who wanted the cabin to stay in. But the amount of foot traffic is also related to the number of day-use visitors who commute from hotels or home. Some are experienced folks who we see all the time and are no different than those who camp. They have projects and buy stuff. Maybe more of these folks have a MV under restoration than the typical camper who already has his done and has shifted to "social mode" and needs a campsite to park the truck in. Then you have newbies who are not yet committed to taking vacation for several days. Maybe they have kids who can't leave school. These folks are the future of our hobby. So the interests of vendors and day visitors are interconnected. Not enough new blood might cause some vendors to downsize or not attend, although this will shift the money to others including the amateur vendors.

Both of those groups want to see our parking and access challenges addressed. KOA has very little visitor parking when the big grass fields are soft. One option we publicized was buying a $10/night spot in the Group Camping area and using it only for parking and the entry pass. No four night minimum. This was at the north end. An additional Group Camping area was just off KOAs parking lot. But they chose to block vehicle access in there. I walked it and it felt firm. Probably in a normal weather year, 60-80 cars could park there instead of tents. We can't count on the lower, larger fields to the east being available in April, although the northern one which was mowed for the Huey LZ might have been firm enough. Mow it earlier and this facilitates drying.

As for campers, they could park their car-haulers AND extra cars, pickups, in the year-round trailer/RV storage lot at the north end. The renters were not allowed access to their trailers during our meet so we were allowed to block thems. This feature was advertised on the web and on the activities flyer, but we needed signage describing what to do. Stashing an unneeded pickup there frees up space in campsites.

The Group Area and that storage lot are accessed from within the campground and if visitors are to use them, it means some of them will instead park cars illegally along the roads in the campground. Besides being against current rules, this can interfere with large RVs and fire trucks moving around. So there would be more parking enforcement needed (aka cat-herding) by KOA and some towing would be necessary. Extra personnel costs KOA money.

Regarding parking within campsites, we hope to get KOA to loosen up on their "one camper and one car" rule. They seemed flexible as the week progressed. Seems to me a person should be able to park as many vehicles on his long, pull-through pad as he wants. Not everybody has a 40' RV and towed vehicle to park. The owner was sensitive to lawn damage. We hope this will loosen up during normal weather years when they are firmer. He was concerned about ruts to have to repair right before the high season starts. This is a possible parking solution for the lighter vehicles. We'll find out.

We will always need an offsite parking lot or two, and shuttles, which need to run more days and for longer hours, plus electronic signs out there telling people where to go. It might be possible to add some method of transporting purchased parts to offsite lots, which will make sellers and visiting buyers happy. Maybe a volunteer system, or an entrepreneur with a pickup working for tips? Possibly we can get a commercial sponsor or two to fund things.

We want KOA to allow vehicles without campground parking passes up the entrance road to drop people off, then the driver can go back out to park and take the shuttle back. This was much of the "turning people away" issue. Seems to us this is practical if KOA has a good traffic control person by their office.

Dave knows more about this than me, but it could be the visitor fee is negotiable. A fee affects the less committed (and cheap) visitors, but it is a method to fund some of the above things. As said elsewhere, the fees were not an income stream for KOA.

Now that we have all seen the massive grass fields to the east, imagine a dry season meet in Petaluma? We are moving our 2018 meet later by one week, which will help a little. I understand the KOA owner is interested in us doing our September meet there. It could be heavily advertised and so quite vendor and display-oriented. Maybe have paid parking with Scouts or another non-profit group running that or let KOA have the revenue. Perhaps we could get our discounted camping rate despite not using as many sites, which is usually what happens in September. I wonder how many visitors we'd get in this large market? Maybe partner with the American Historical Truck Society to help fill campsites? Maybe some campsites could be allocated for MV displays by the many dozens of owners who live in Sonoma County? Something to think about.

So these are things our folks are working on for next April.
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Re: Camp Petaluma Replacing SPRING Tower Park 4/18-23/17

Post by Kim Sievert » Sun May 14, 2017 3:41 pm

Chuck
I agree...we may be screwed with the KOA being the only game in town for what we need to accommodate the Spring meet so compromises are needed....all week I wondered if we'd even be ALLOWED to discuss coming back there for 2018! Now if we are, under what circumstances is the question..."the Devil is in the details" as they say!
Huh,,,,,,,,,,, Where have you been ?

Major changes to what was Tower park, have disabled our ability for a spring meet there.
Some of those forthcoming new owner changes, have been published in the MVCC news letters.
The Tower Park, that we use to use in the springtime, is now gone forever.

Anybody,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
If you have an idea for a new location, scout it out yourself and see if it can handle us.
JoAnn can give you the close guestimates of the numbers of spots needed,,,, for full hook ups, partial hook ups, tent camping with power, tent camping without power and parking spots per camp site, that would be nice to have. Also include in your presentation, give the cost of camping and the # of occupants # and the cars allowed per spot, and give and distances and access to and possible locations getting any close by parking spots for visitors and solve the logistics problem of moving stuff that gets purchased.

Any MVCC member is free to look for another campground, and create a written document of the goods and bads of that location and present it to the board..

Dave, busted his ass, trying to get those requirements satisfied as much as possible.
THERE is nowhere that would be perfect for campers, sellers and visitors.

Dave got it done, we have a place to go and camp.
JoAnn accepted the task of wagon master and she got it done, in trying to fit in and accommodate as many of us as possible.

Having a "after action report" and receiving comments are good, if generalized
But saying how the KOA location and that your camping spot limitations, does not suit YOUR personal needs,,,,,,,,, well,,,,,,,,

Changes will happen slowly,,, just like they did at Patterson , Big Bear, Tower Park, Woodsen's Bridge and Gridley
So If anybody feels like not wanting to wait it out, for most of the changes noted to be remedied, I guess you are going to be away for awhile.
If and when you decide to come back, when things sound like they are near perfect for you, good luck getting a spot.

I am speaking for myself as a long time member.
My opinions, are my opinions only.
Last edited by Kim Sievert on Thu May 18, 2017 7:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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