How to host a vintage trailer rally

Steps in planning a vintage trailer rally

So you want to start a vintage trailer rally near you? How do you do it? What are the steps?

TCT Members wishing to host an official TCT Rally must work with their Regional or local area State TCT Representative.  They will offer you guidance and support to make organizing the rally a simpler process. You can find the TCT representatives and their contact here.

Planning a rally is easier than you think.

  • Step 1: Find a campground that is interested and would be willing to work with you. This means that they would be willing to help with the rally, that they have facilities for the group to get together and that they’d be open to setting aside a number of sites for the rally members to camp near each other.
  • Step 2: Pick a date. Something that works for the campground and might be aligned with some other interesting event that the rally members might want to participate in. Also, check the TCT website to see what other events might be going on to avoid conflicts.
  • Step 3: Put together an agenda for the rally, plan for costs and create a way for participants to register with you and for their campground. We have guidance/suggestions on our website for rally hosts. Get a hold of us and we will walk you through this and help anyway we can.
  • Step 4: Advertise the rally on the TCT website – go to “vintage camper rally” and then “Add a Vintage Trailer Rally to our listings ”. We will help get the word out. For a first time rally, you can expect about 10-20 trailers if you pick an interesting campground, advertise well and give people plenty of time to plan for the event.
  • Step 5: Communicate with participants, keep them informed on plans and see who would like to volunteer to help. It takes a lot of work and coordination during a rally but people love being involved and helping.
  • Step 6: Prepare for the rally and activities
  • Step 7: Enjoy the event and make new friends
  • Step 8: Be prepared to do it again and again!

Simple Rally Guidance

How I put together a vintage trailer rally

Open House-swap met?? Pot luck dinner- Western theme the entire event?? Music/dance Saturday night? Got any pickers to play for free??? Jam session?? Karaoke?? White elephant gift exchange? Door Prizes, group photo, and window placard- for each trailer. Speaker with a trailer topic- like questions and answers on restoring-Kenny my husband is good at that. These are some of the rally things/activities to think about.

What do we need?

A group area to gather for potlucks, shade is a must, (we have rented a tent in the past, but that is a pain), mostly full hook-ups, at least water and electric, and I think you must have the campground block off an area for our use also. I generally look on line first, have a list of question, which include, will you accept groups? Discounts? and who will be the wagon master -and keep and maker make reservations, group pavilion, decent restrooms, cancellation policy, and how much of a deposit to hold spot?? Then I follow up with a personal call ask more question, narrow it down and then go, and personally check it out the campground. I like state campgrounds too, but ours mostly don’t take reservations. I like everyone camping together, if possible. Leverage our Vintage Trailer Friendly list as a starting point.

After you find a campground, get together your tentative agenda/itinerary.

This is a sample of my itinerary with notes. After I finalize this and give it out in their goodie bags, and go over it in your first meeting. It list what is going on, what to bring, where we are gathering, etc.


Thursday arrivals, they check in with the park, get set up. Give out goodie bags, with an itinerary inside Will attach my last TCT rally brochure for some ideas for you. Can meet them as they pull in or pass out goodie bags at the meet and greet. Yes, I like a first night meeting, do introductions there- we go around self introduction and trailer info, and the itinerary so everyone knows what is going on and when. I use name badges at least for the first night or ask they wear their TCT badges on a lanyard-for all pot lucks it is a good idea too. That might be enough, goodie bags, and introductions. We might also call a local pizza place have a few delivered, everyone bring their own- adult beverages and side dish to share if they want. Or can do a salsa bar idea, we supply salsa and chips, or ask that everyone bring their favorite salsa or finger food to share. Some people might not arrive until Friday, so turn out here might be light, introductions are the most important. Also I give a TCT talk and sing our song, hand shake and explain the group- see new members. Do you know our song, secret sign and hand shake???? If not let me know.


Friday-during the day on your own to explore and later arrive check in. Potluck is good, most will want to know what to bring, so theme it and give examples. Call it Cowboy Chow, The Lone-star dinner special, Mexican is better, or make finger foods, or sandwich, or Chili -red or green??, or something, that will complement Saturday dinner. Then suggest, they bring barbecue, ribs, or what dish specifically goes with the theme etc. After dinner, great time for campfire and trailer stories. Optional is going to a local event. Decorating, I try and spruce up things, with table cloths, table centerpieces, etc- mostly for the big dinner get together on Saturday night. Don’t want to overdo, but just to get the idea across and create a bit of excitement.


Saturday- in the past, I cooked and supplied a pancake breakfast, but to much work. Now, only continental breakfast items. If the park does breakfast, get a group cost, and include that in the rally cost, and say free breakfast at the clubhouse. Don’t worry about the quality, they are cooking it-no reflection on you, sure it will be fine, let the park do it, so you can enjoy the event too. 10-3 open house. I have in the past tried to get everyone together and go from trailer to trailer in a group, letting each owner explain their trailer, but that does not work well. Now, let everyone explore and see the trailer on their own. You need to call the press in for this, get as much coverage from the press and invite them and the general public and park residents during this time. I contact the newspapers, post on Craigslist, and put a sign up in the campground.

Swap meet, easy and most everyone likes it, bring it, set it out and hope it sells. Easy and fun. I like it, not everyone does it, but it goes well with the open house. Just put it on your itinerary, and mention it on your advertisement for the rally.

PM, like the idea of a catered dinner, afterwards, then gifts- and dance/campfire. Gifts, several options. I collect and get stuff donated, then wrap and give them out. or ask every camper to bring a trailer related item for the trailer trash gift exchange. You could just have a couple large item, featured items we can give away, or do the TT exchange. Think about which way you want to do it. One thing I can tell you is between the goodie bags, and gifts, you almost have a truck load of stuff to bring. Now add decorations, food, chairs and you have quite a load. Something to think about also. We generally don’t do awards for best trailer etc. I have been in the car hobby a long time, and fine I don’t like to judge. Maybe do a peoples ballet, with categories-if you want to offer awards, include it in your goodie bag.


Sunday- breakfast, hmm, it is a lot of work to do a breakfast, do you have help? There were 4-6 of us, cooking and feeding 40 trailer, also remember most trailers come the 2 people average. When you give out free food, they come. Just coffee and good byes can be enough.

Here is where it gets tricky, what time is check out? May people will pack up and hit the road early to get home, and not want to do anything Sunday, others will hang out. Something to think about. I like to stay on Sunday say goodbyes, then pack and leave Monday AM. Thanks the park also and make sure they are paid and happy.

Well, there is really nothing to it, once you find the location. This might be enough to start, and I hope it does not scare you, it would be wonderful to have your event.


Money: My Sedona-2010 rally was a challenge some are, it was attended by 27. Generally expect 30-50 would be my guess for your first event. Price is also important. This rally was expensive, $45. per night, I only charged a $5.00 rally fee, hardly covered anything, but I get some stuff donated for goodie bags, and door prizes. I block off 30 spots to start, and work with the park to get more. Tell the park you will release back to them the unsold also. Late registrations, can be a issue, so I use a cut off date. With exception of Sedona for the past 10 years all my rally’s have paid for themselves. The most I have charged is $25.00 per trailer and $5.00 is the least. Generally now a days, the less the better, but be sure to cover your cost, anything remaining goes into your pocket.

My last rally 2014 at Elephant Butte, NM lake was a bust. It was a new location, 130 miles from Albuquerque, and only attended by 6 trailers. So I lost money, the park was not happy, and I personally felt let down. You never know. I did include a free boat ride around the lake, there was a parade we could of participated in, a Mexican dinner at a local restaurant, paid by their $25.00 rally fee, chips and salas party, 2 gifts per trailer, nice (donated by my local camping store) a desert and cocktail party. You never know.

Also, I like there to be something to do close by, train rides, a town, river or lake, Six Flags, something fun, then see if we can’t get a group together and do something. Also contact the chamber of Commerce in the area and get information from them. Many time they will come to Friday night dinner-talk and pass out info for free. Does the park offer food? Do they have a restaurant? It is nice if we can have enough money from the rally fee for a catered dinner. Will the park extend the rally rate a couple days for us? Grassy area, don’t like highway noise, dirty and dust.

Then I put together info sheet, figure out a rally price, include TCT membership, and we can start selling spots. Will need to post on all trailer sites and let people know. Of course don’t forget to post on TCT Terry is great at getting the word out. I’m sure I forgot lots of stuff, but that might give you an idea on what I look for, and what makes a good rally.

How to host a BIG formal Rally

Below are some rally/event tasks, responsibilities, or guidelines for Representative and volunteer help, not necessarily a complete list, not necessarily applicable. The Task Coordinators may require additional help from other TCT members depending on the scope of the task. The Coordinators are responsible to determine that and ask for help before or at the rally.

TCT Representative

  • Establish event, reserve site, apply for necessary permits/contracts
  • Determine costs to create budget income/expense requirements
  • Create rally/event account for treasury
  • Prepare and submit rally/event announcement for registration (Paypal and check streams)
  • Coordinate current memberships with National as rally/event registrations are received
  • Create rally/event daily agendIdentify all tasks, timelines, request Task Coordinator volunteers
  • Submit registration spreadsheet & agenda to park or campground management
  • Reimburse Task Coordinators for expenses, pay vendors, park/campground directly
  • Obtain $$ change, sell store items
  • Prepare and submit Rally/Event Report

Task Coordinators

Meals (food, wine, juice. Milk, coffee, ice tea, lemonade mix, sundries)

  • Determine meal dates, types, selection, volume for ordering, vendors, costs, delivery times, tips. (Note: potluck/dish-to-pass, pizza, bbq, catered meal, any combination, donuts, etc)
  • Determine sundries (cups for coffee, drinks, wine, bowls, plates, flatware, paper napkins, creamer, sugar, table coverings) and costReview with Rep for budget
  • Receive reimbursements through receipts or request direct payment to vendors
  • Make coffee (6 am start for 7:30 breakfast)


  • Determine type (music, presentation, others
  • Determine cost, contract if required, start and end time for agenda
  • Review with Rep for budget
  • Coordinate payment

Tent Rental

  • Identify vendor, cost, contract, dates for set-up & take-down
  • Review with Rep for budget
  • Coordinate payment

Rally Pack (manila envelope containing rally documents, memento, plaque, etc)

  • Identify plaque vendor, cost for plaque (one per registration)
  • Review with Rep for budget
  • Order, pay, submit receipt for reimbursement or submit bill to Rep for payment
  • Identify rally/event memento, vendor, artwork and review with Rep for budget
  • Order, pay, submit receipt for reimbursement or submit bill to Rep for payment
  • Purchase manila envelopes
  • Purchase wristbands for meal entry if required
  • Obtain rv window signs from Publicity Coordinator
  • Obtain event/rally agenda, registration list from Rep
  • Stuff envelopes and write registrant names on front, arrange in alpha order
  • Distribute to arriving registrants or deliver to Rep for early arrival/distribution


  • Prepare release for local media (newspapers, magazines, websites) with emphasis on Open House to public if applicable.
  • Prepare or contract for printing of window signs
  • Submit cost to Rep for reimbursement


  • Take photos of rally/event new members, awards, meals, entertainment, rigs, Open House attendees
  • Submit to Rep for Rally/Event Report inclusion

Happy Hour

  • Identify time, area, date for Rally/Event Agenda
  • Set up, clean up, breakdown table(s) if necessary


  • Set up, break down tables for meals as required, set table coverings
  • Set up, fold up chairs for entertainment if required
  • Wipe down tables with disinfectant/paper towels after each meal
  • Unplug urn, dispose of coffee grinds and unused coffee in urn.
  • Rinse urn


  • Check cans and empty if required
  • Replace bags as required
  • Truck empty pizza boxes and bags to dumpster if required


  • Identify type of competition
  • Obtain cost of plaques or prizes
  • Identify time and place
  • Review with Representative
  • Award winners

Hosts and Costs

  • Rally Hosts – include your rally fees in the over cost of the rally and consider that compensation for the tremendous amount of work that goes into planning and running a successful rally. Hosts typically pay for their camping fees unless they can negotiate this with the campground. Sometimes campgrounds will comp or discount the hosts camping fees for bringing the rally to their campground.
  • Co-hosts and volunteers – if the rally host decides whether or not co-hosts and volunteers will receive any compensation (up to covering the rally fee). Some rallies are quite large and a co-host might be needed to manage and facilitate such a large event. Depending on the workload involved, consider some form of compensation.

Rally Finances

  • All attendees must be Tin Can Tourist Members and membership fees are required to be collected for the event to be considered an “Official Tin Can Tourists Rally”. The membership fee is $20 and $10 of the collected fees from new members is available for the rally host to use towards the financial needs of the rally.
  • The decision to collect the camping fee and registration fee separately or together is up to the rally host and based on the campground registration process and size of the rally.


  • Decide if it’s going to be a Regional Gathering or a Vintage Gathering. A Regional Gathering may include a Concours if desired. Contact Forrest for assistance and any clarification required.
  • When scheduling, check for other vintage rallies within your regional area to avoid conflicts – there’s 52 weeks in a year and it’s nice to have a variety of event dates to attend. The vintage Yahoo groups are beginning to set up rallies, so it would be advisable to check for conflicts.
  • Start off with a small rally and build on its success. There haven’t been any unsuccessful TCT Gatherings. Our experience has been that a first time Gathering will draw between 20 and 35 units.
  • Pick an area where people can park/camp together in a state, municipal, or commercial campground with full or limited hook-ups. A campground that allows attendees to reserve their site directly has proven to be the most advantageous for the hosts.
  • Depending on the host’s preference, non-campgrounds may be preferable. A gathering on private land with shared utilities or in a boon dock setting can be very successful.
  • A central meeting room or tent will provide coverage in case of inclement weather and provide a place for group functions.
  • An area for group campfire creates a natural meeting place for attendees to socialize and tell tales.


  • Have a sign-up sheet so that people can volunteer to assist during the rally. This will give new members and opportunity to contribute to the success of the Gathering and meet and be met by other members.
  • Use e-mails to distribute information and updates for all TCT members.
  • The website and the Down the Road section of the newsletter should be used to attract regional residents to your Gathering. Provide contact information and a method to request registration material. Use the TCT site for online registration, as well as, a downloadable registration form for regular mail registration.
  • Base the rally costs on the site fees, if you’re handling site reservations, and then a set “rally fee” to cover expenses such as group meals, and any other costs to be shared by the group. Regional Rally Concours awards will be provide by TCT at no expense to the hosts.
  • Advertise early on the internet and via our newsletter Tin Can Tales. Advertise the Open House and Concours locally via available media.

During the Rally

  • If possible, greet people as they arrive. It is important to assign an individual to help park people as they arrive. Parking assistance (backing in) may be necessary for some attendees. Hand out a “goody bag” with a finalized schedule, window sign, attendee roster, emergency numbers and material on selected local attractions.
  • Join in “Happy” or “Social Hours” in the late afternoon. These are great ways to recap that day’s events, explorations, and to plan any events for the following day. At the first Social Hour introduce those that are attending their first TCT Gathering. If the group is relatively small, all attendees may introduce themselves
  • Plan a group event for the last evening. Catered meals, BBQ’s, potlucks and a Pizza Night have been utilized successfully.
  • Plan a tour of local attraction or prepare directions for self-guided local trip reflecting the attributes of the area.
  • Allow for “free time” for personal exploration.
  • Plan an Open House, and time to prep for it. Window Signs with owner’s name, city, state and the year/make and model are appreciated.
  • Provide information on local houses of worship.
  • Entertainment at rallies is always a plus – Encourage people to participate if they have a special talent. Park Rangers are another source of entertainment, they are usually very willing to come to a rally and give a presentation on the local surroundings.
  • Seek interested individuals to be designated photographers (digital preferred) for TCT website postings, also, see if someone is interested in blogging daily for the Tin Can Tourists Campfire Blog. The blog can become a great piece for the newsletter.

After the Rally

  • Send pictures to Terry Bone ( to post on TCT website
  • Add items to this page of elements that worked, so others can learn from the experiences