Newbies No More: Insights from First-Time Winnebago EKKO Rally Attendees
Plus, meet some of the wonderful members of the Winnebago EKKO family!

By: Noel Fleming & Chris Miller

The air, unseasonably chilly for January in Tampa, called for jackets and hats. We gathered beneath the white tent that served as the command center for the third annual Tampa EKKO Rally welcoming committee—not just for warmth, but for the shared joy of anticipation. 

The countdown was on. The pizzas had been ordered, the speakers were scheduled, trivia questions were curated, and numbered parking cones were placed. Details. Details. Details. All that remained was the arrival of the attendees!

The entry road to the rally grounds curved between two small ponds. An anhinga searched for sun, while sandhill cranes foraged for food. We, too, were on the lookout, eagerly awaiting our Winnebago EKKO family. Who would be first to arrive? Would it be Jim Banks from Fairbanks, or another familiar face from previous gatherings, or a newbie?

Welcoming Winnebago EKKO Family Newbies at the Tampa Rally

The Facebook event post had revealed an ever-growing list of interested members over the past few months. Much to our delight, the group included many first-time rally goers. Some new owners had picked up their rigs during the previous month; others were using the journey to the rally as their shakedown trip. We welcomed each rig with enthusiasm. 

Standing on sideboards, we gave hugs and high-fives, delivered welcome packets, and met traveling companions—both humans and canines. This rhythm of waiting and welcoming repeated for hours as 54 rigs from 19 states and two Canadian provinces brought 96 attendees.

Photo Credit: Neal Kirby

During our days together, the veterans and the newbies melded seamlessly. The old timers listened to inquiries and beginning tales from the road. Heads shook knowingly. We remembered having those same questions ourselves. Conversations flowed easily during shared meals, campfire chats, NFL playoff games, trivia team banter, and dog walks. Topics went beyond technical RV knowledge to the larger stuff of life. Every opportunity was an open invitation to connect.

New Rally Attendee Insights

This goldmine of newbies offered insights regarding the appeal and purpose of rallies and gave suggestions for future events. Here is a sampling of their collective feedback:

1. Being part of the online community made in-person connections even easier.

Without exception, every owner we interviewed was drawn to the rally because of the Facebook community. Many of the newbies had been members of the group since its inception three years ago. Long before they had their own rigs, they gained knowledge, inspiration, and confidence from posts. 

The Facebook community, governed with a commitment to kindness and an admirable response time for troubleshooting, gave the newbies a sense of belonging before they ever met another owner face-to-face. Because the foundation had been laid for authentic inclusive collaboration, they came to their first rally with little trepidation. Assured that they would find common ground with like-minded travelers, they looked forward to meeting members of the online community.

Photo Credit: Sal Emma

2. Having a variety of group settings worked well for attendees.

Though they reported various levels of ease in social situations, each with their own space along the introvert/extrovert continuum, they all found their own level of comfort in large and small group settings. Opportunities to participate were varied and accommodated each person’s style.

3. Gaining RV knowledge and seeing mods in person was a big highlight.

Their expectations were met and exceeded as new bonds of friendship were begun and existing ties were strengthened. They all reported satisfaction in seeing mods in person and hearing real-life accounts of the installation and revisions. The information shared by fellow RVers and industry representatives during large group sessions was a highlight as they grew their knowledge about the specific systems in their rigs.

Additionally, seeing the sizable group of Winnebago EKKOs parked together beneath the oak trees brought a true sense of giddy delight to this group that has been awaiting the delivery of orders.

4. Getting together led to dreaming up future meetup locations and activities.

With their sights set on attending more rallies in the future, they shared their interest in rallies that focus on boondocking, national parks, and state parks. They would be interested in gatherings located in a variety of regions i.e. Southwest USA, Baja, New England, Nova Scotia, and any of the other Canadian provinces. (Sounds like this group is game for going anywhere!)

Photo Credit: Howard Ignatius

They suggested that future rally itineraries could include sessions regarding managing 12V systems, maintaining physical fitness, meal prep on the road, understanding the difference between campground types (COE, USF, BLM), and learning logistics related to caravanning. Breakout sessions for newbies, installation of one mod, and a mechanic on site would all be welcome additions to gatherings. 

They also expressed a desire to have an archive of digital handouts or bulleted synopsis of content shared during rally workshops.

Cheers to the newbies. Those who seek out community, who add to our complexity, and enrich us by sharing their stories and themselves. One day they will be the ones clustered beneath the welcome tent awaiting our arrival.

Ready to attend your first (or next) rally?

If you are seeking your first rally or another one to add to your adventure collection, be sure to visit winnebago.com. Click on the owners tab and select GoLife Community. Here you can find the Owner-Organized Meetups and Rallies Calendar as well as Winnebago-sponsored events. 

There’s also a link for you to complete an online form if you would like to host a rally. Additionally, you can visit the Winnebago GoLife Group Meetup Maps to filter meetups and rallies by location, specific coach model, and special interest group.

Get to Know Some Excited Winnebago EKKO Owners!

During the Tampa EKKO Rally, we had the chance to meet and interview some of the owners in attendance. We hope you enjoy getting to know them as well …

Jill, Jon & Jaxon Wagner-Holtz

Winnebago EKKO name: Roy Kent
Hometown: Clermont, FL
Took ownership: December 2023
Distance traveled to rally: 58 miles
RV ownership history: The Winnebago EKKO is their 4th camping unit and their first motorhome. 

Though their Winnebago EKKO was tucked in the back of the rally ground, this crew was definitely at the forefront of everyone’s enjoyment. They projected movies and sports on the outside of their rig and invited anyone to join the circle. Jill and Jon also offered the warmth of old fashions and campfires. 

Five-year-old Jaxon brought vim and vigor to everything as he cruised around the grounds on his electric minibike. He exuded the love of engagement fostered by his parents. Jill and Jon were grateful for the ease with which the community rallied around Jaxon and embraced his spirit. Rally mascot may be in Jaxon’s future.

Judith & George Frazier (and Lily)

Winnebago EKKO name: Cloud
Hometown: Beaufort, NC
Took ownership: May 2022
Distance traveled to rally: 700 miles
RV ownership history: The Winnebago EKKO is their first RV.

The Fraziers' Winnebago EKKO is aptly named; they are indeed cloud chasers. Judith grew up in the Philippines where she hiked into the clouds. George noted the cloud formations when he sailed around the world on his own boat. Judith worked beneath the clouds while serving as chief stewardess on mega yachts. Together, they camped in the clouds of West Virginia during their first excursion with the Winnebago EKKO. Their individual and shared life stories have equipped them well to be adventurous travelers who appreciate life, problem solve together, and value each day.

Jennifer & Tom Adrien (and Cora)

Winnebago EKKO Name: Wandah
Hometown: Macon, GA
Took ownership: October 2023
Distance traveled to rally: 388 miles
RV ownership history: Previously owned a 45’ Class A.

Jennifer and Tom first met us at the Hershey RV show this past fall. They returned to the Winnebago display multiple times to garner information that solidified their choice of rig. Before discovering the Winnebago EKKO, Tom aspired to travel in a motorhome and Jennifer was less enthusiastic, considering staying home and supporting his dreams from a distance.

Now she equally embraces the wanderlust and has recently been talking about venturing out on solo trips. Who knows if their dog Cora will beg to join her adventure?

Korrine Sharp

Winnebago EKKO Name: On-in (“End of trail ahead; let’s get the party started!”)
Hometown: Azle, TX
Took ownership: June 2023
Distance traveled to rally: 1,145 miles
RV ownership history: Previously owned a truck camper and toy hauler.

Korrine is a solo traveler with a multitude of connections. An active contributor on the Facebook group, her posts span a diverse range of topics from inflatable kayak storage to meal prep with a freeze dryer, thoughts to consider when personalizing RV insurance, and tips about specific boondocking locations. Since she was fortunate enough to win the Truma cooler and the Backwoods bumper during our rally’s raffle, she may have even more posts to share!

Julia & Jeff Cale

Winnebago EKKO Name: La Tortue (carry house on back)
Hometown: Goderich, Ontario
Took ownership: March 2022
Distance traveled to rally: 1,324 miles
RV ownership history: The Winnebago EKKO is the first motorhome for these experienced campers.

Like us, Julia and Jeff watched the live launch of the Winnebago EKKO on November 18, 2021. After traveling in pop-top camper vans and travel trailers, they were ready for an upgrade. The Winnebago EKKO checked the items on their wish list, and their order was placed. The Cales received the fifth Winnebago EKKO delivered in Canada! Watching the impending weather forecast before the rally, they decided to begin their road trip 24 hours earlier than planned. We are thrilled that they avoided the snow and arrived for a flurry of fun.

Nancy Dong & Hugh Lu (and Finnigan)

Winnebago EKKO Name: No name yet
Hometown: Wimauma, FL
Took ownership: October 2023
Distance traveled to rally: 19 miles
RV ownership experience: Previously owned a Renegade on a Sprinter chassis.

Hugh and Nancy appreciate community. He was an active contributor on the forum for his previous RV model. With that background experience, he naturally gravitated to the Winnebago EKKO Facebook page for insights and education. 

Following our group for three years, Hugh felt a kinship to individual members and was excited to join them at the rally. During the mod tours, one of his big takeaways was that he didn’t need to invest currently in any additional mods. Relaxing and enjoying road trips would be the best informer of desirable future mods.

When Hugh and Nancy determine what mods best fit their style of travel, we expect to read the details in upcoming posts. 

Marlene & Dan Leblanc

Winnebago EKKO Name: Nocona (wanderer)
Hometown: Val-Des-Monts, Quebec 
Took ownership: November 2021
Distance traveled to rally: 1,800 miles
RV ownership history: The Winnebago EKKO is their FIRST RV!

When picking up their Winnebago EKKO in Ottawa, Dan and Marlene used our group’s inspection checklist as a resource. It provided a helpful reference and gave them confidence with the purchase of their first rig. Speaking of checklists, Marlene was already making some mental checklists regarding new activities for future rallies. She is longing to dance at the next rally and possesses the enthusiasm to make it happen. Certainly, she and Dan can rearrange the contents of their gear garage to make room for extra power cords, a DJ station, and a disco ball!


Don't forget to check for meetups near you for a chance to get to know more amazing Winnebago owners.

Comments

Comments on this post are moderated, so they will not appear instantly. All relevant questions and helpful notes are welcome! If you have a service inquiry or question related to your RV, please reach out to the customer care team directly using the phone numbers or contact form on this page .

User commented on February 1, 2024 4:07 AM
I so enjoyed reading this newsy article and meeting more members of this amazing EKKO family and community it has become. Thank you for sharing the photos and fun with us who were unable to attend. Well done, Noel & Chris!
User commented on February 1, 2024 10:20 AM
We’re so thrilled you joined us and made meaningful connections! Hope you’re making plans to attend another one!
User commented on February 1, 2024 1:46 PM
Well written synopsis of a great rally!! We had a great time despite the cold, and Rusty is already barking for next year’s rally! Anke and Doug Tracey
User commented on February 3, 2024 1:32 PM
Well Rusty certainly is a smart one! 😉 Hope to see you guys again soon!
User commented on February 1, 2024 9:10 PM
Way to go, Noel - nicely done. :)
User commented on February 3, 2024 1:34 PM
Chris and I thank you!!
User commented on February 2, 2024 12:32 AM
Dan and I had a great time and as first time rally attendees it did not disappoint. We really didn’t know what to expect, but it was so much more. We do hope to see you all again in the near future. Kudos to all of you who put in the hard work and organization to make this such a success . Dan and Marlene
User commented on February 3, 2024 1:36 PM
Y’all sure settled in quick! This is a definite sign that there are more meetups and rallies in your future! The planning team thanks you! Can’t wait to catch you at the next one. 😍
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