By Valerie Smith

The Bulletin

If you go

The public may attend the Family Motor Coach Association’s 90th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase, which continues through Saturday at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond.

Viewing motor homes and booth displays costs $7 per person per day; children ages 12 and under, when accompanied by an adult, and those with an active military ID will be admitted free. A daily passport, which provides access to exhibits, seminars and evening entertainment, costs $65 per person.

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REDMOND — When asked about the benefits of a motor home lifestyle, a handful of men standing amid 1,500 motor homes Wednesday at the Family Motor Coach Association convention gave several answers.

Camaraderie, said Walt Jewell, of San Rafael, California.

Fraternity, said another.

Freedom, said David Codromac. But it comes at a cost, he added.

“Money pit is No. 1 for this lifestyle,” said Codromac, of Redding, California, an FMCA member of 15 years. “When you have this RV lifestyle and you can truly afford it, the whole world is literally at your disposal.”

Codromac owns a 40-foot Winnebago Itasca Horizon and travels with his wife, Ruth-Anne, to places like Nova Scotia and Niagara Falls. The motor home cost $303,000, and upkeep is steep, he said. Just this year, new tires, a new satellite dish and repairs have cost over $6,000 for the couple.

Still, he said, he and his wife enjoy the convenience of being wherever they want to be at a moment’s notice.

The FMCA is holding its 90th Family Reunion and Motorhome Showcase at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, where it has held four previous conventions since 2001. The event is estimated to generate $6 million in direct and indirect spending for Central Oregon and about double that for the state overall, according to Eric Sande, executive director of the Redmond Chamber of Commerce & CVB.

“It’s great for our economy and great for tourism in our area,” said Sande. “Our restaurants are full, and everyone’s fueling up with gas.”

Buying a motor home can be costly, depending on the size and how it’s outfitted, but after the initial investment, the money saved annually on hotels, food and other expenses can be as much as $4,000 or more, depending on the amount of travel, according to Robbin Gould, editor of Family Motor Coaching magazine and FMCA media representative.

“It’s neat because of the way the economy has gotten better, the motor home business has gotten better,” said Gould. “Production levels are up; purchases are up, and coming here is like moving a city into a city.”

The event is expected to attract between 2,000 and 2,500 motor homes total.

The FMCA counts more than 80,000 families as members, with 2,500 calling Oregon home. About 800 members volunteer to help put on the event, which continues through Saturday.

Many members are retired, but not all, according to the FMCA.

Retirees Walt and Jackie Jewell, a married couple of 42 years, joined the FMCA in 2008. They drove their new 40-foot 2014 Fleetwood Discovery from San Rafael to Redmond. They’ve been part of a motor home group called The Blenders since 2003.

“You wake up to a different sunrise every morning,” said Walt Jewell. “You sleep in your own bed, and get to enjoy camping with all the amenities in one spot, surrounded by good friends.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,