If you have not been to a SAF (Silver Avion Fellowship) Rally you are really missing something special! The Elkhart, Indiana Rally is the “Mother Ship” original rally that has now birthed other rallies to spring up in Texas and Arkansas to host rallies at least annually as well. Every rally across the USA gives a huge warm welcome to fellow Avioners regardless of age of rig, condition or for that matter…if you don’t have one yet- attending a rally and staying at a local hotel, etc. to come to the rally to chat with current owners can be super valuable. We all love to talk Avions!!
The Indiana SAF is held in mid-July annually and as of this post it is traditionally held at the Elkhart Campground which is easily accessed by major interstates. On average 30-40 Avions of various ages, lengths, models and condition flock to the campground filling at least one of the full hook up site fields! The campground is also very convenient to the RV Hall of Fame (a must see!), great antique shopping, grocery stores and any other retail you can imagine right in Elkhart. Another short day trip is to Shipshewana, IN which is home to one of the largest groups of Amish and Mennonite communities- the area is chocked full of amazing stores, antiques, livestock and goods auctions, gorgeous gardens, even a Quilt Garden Trail and much much more! Just watch out for buggies!
Not to be missed when you attend the rally is a trip “upcountry” to Bontragers and Johnson’s RV Salvage/Overstock type stores. Since Elkhart, IN is the “Capital of the RV Building Industry” a lot of overstock parts, gently used parts, and salvage are snatched up by these two retailers to sell the general public. It is said if you cannot find what you are looking for at one of their locations…its not available. We have enjoyed going but in truth, we have found very little useful to our vintage trailer besides generic parts and RV supplies that typically can be found at any RV parts store. But it’s a fun adventure anyway! We actually prefer to go to the Johnson’s location that is only about 10 minutes from the campground and located on a main drag right in Elkhart- just google it when there!
WHAT WILL I SEE WHEN I ATTEND THE ELKHART SAF RALLY?
The Indiana rally starts on Thursday but at least a third of the attendees start rolling in from Tuesday forward. By Friday evening, everyone has arrived. The rally ends on Sunday at campground check out, 11 AM.
When you arrive the rally coordinators will warmly greet you (and everyone else will wave to you as you come in!) and give you your packet with schedule, a rally sticker for your rig or keepsake, info sheet on local retailers, restaurants, –and yes, directions to Bontragers and Johnsons!
Here is a slide show from the 2021 Elkhart SAF Rally! Maybe you recognize someone you know?!! If not, come to the rally and you will be one of the gang in no time!
THERE IS LOTS TO DO RIGHT AT THE RALLY!
- Morning Coffee and snacks with topic chats from fellow Avion owners (Saturday and Sunday morning). A great place to get answers to your questions, offer tips (trials and tribulations too!) and hear about resources around an informal cup o’ Joe. Some owners have had their Avions for decades, others have worked in or owned Avion dealerships! This is time to really pick some brains!
- Welcome Reception/Happy Hour: BYOB but refreshments are available and many bring a bottle of something to share too! Dive into some nibbles, meet fellow Avioners and get the low down from the rally hosts on schedule highlights, additions or any changes.
- Saturday Evening Dinner: Once again the volunteer kitchen crew do a bang up job putting out a great buffet dinner (yes, all of this is included in your very affordable rally fee!) Bring your own plate, cup, bowl and utensils and dive in!
- Evening Entertainments: This varies from year to year, sometimes its a costume dress up affair, other times its a techy online version of Trivial Pursuit, there is even a super hilarious mystery gift round robin exchange where I think its more fun to watch the antics than even getting a gift! Some years (since Avioners love to have fun) there are more than one of the above!
- TECH Talk! This is a more formal, scheduled time that anyone is welcomed to join in the event hall to pose questions (or you can submit them in advance which is appreciated) and our panel of Avion Guru’s will do their best to answer your questions. There is also plenty of time again to share tips, resources and how to’s with fellow owners. This event is really a “must do” for first time owners or newbies to Avions! Don’t miss it! Special time and attention is given to first timers!
- “Walk About Trailer Tour”- Wanna see inside some of the Avions at the Rally? This is your chance! Look for the “walk about” on the schedule and take a stroll with attendees to go inside any trailers on tour! Its totally optional to open your rig up for tour- we have had everything from “works in progress” to total gut and modernistic rehabs! Its a great way to get decorating ideas, discuss specifics about their rig and enjoy putting a face to the Avion!
- Informal Happy Hours at Avions! Be sure to get the scoop and find out who may be hosting an impromptu Happy Hour right at their rig. Bring your chair, a dish to share and your own liquid potions! Rock back, enjoy the camaraderie that IS an AVION RALLY!
If this isn’t enough, the campground has a nice pool, and other amenities and of course, don’t forget that visit to the nearby (10 min) RV Hall of Fame to see vintage camping rigs dating back to the early 1900’s, kitchy ones from the 40-50’s and groovy ones (yes, shag carpet) from the 70-80’s!
At the 2021 Rally a small group of us opted to do a private group authentic Amish/Mennonite dinner at a Barn! It was fabulous!
SO DON’T MISS OUT ANY LONGER! PLAN TO ATTEND AN UPCOMING SAF RALLY IN INDIANA, TEXAS OR ARKANSAS!! OR ALL THREE!! BUT HOW??
Simply really! Each of these rallies has their own dedicated Facebook group page where all the specifics about their rallies (date, where, how to register, highlights of events to happen and a direct way to contact the rally coordinator(s) if needed. Folks are very responsive so reach out!
Remember, any Avion, any age and condition is welcomed! Don’t own one yet but want to? That’s fine too just let the rally coordinators know and they can fill you in on how to attend and may have some suggestions for local lodging or if the campground has rentals or cabins. In most cases registered attendees to the rallies make their own camp site registrations when contacting the campground directly. Discount rates typically are given for rally dates.
These Facebook group pages are by invite, so go to the site and click on the button to ask to join! Yes, that simple really!!
- Indiana: https://www.facebook.com/groups/284409031667225
- Texas: https://www.facebook.com/groups/684878741674572
- Arkansas: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2049882605260044
We hope to see you at an upcoming Avion Rally! Once we go full time in 2023 we plan to visit the rallies in TX and AR but in the meantime, we have also joined their Facebook pages to get to know folks virtually!
Luisa & Kevin Sherman