Jerry and I attended our last convention for the season at Tri-States in Sioux Falls, SD. What a great ride it’s been for the past 4 months! We’ve met so many new people and feel like I’ve got new family and friends all over the United States! Although we couldn’t make it to all of the state conventions, I did attend 15, which was a record for me.
There are always common elements with each convention as well as special cultural elements that make them unique. One of the common elements that I see are the hard-working team players that make it all happen. There’s a lot of preparation in putting these together and I don’t think anyone realizes how hard it is unless they get involved. There’s often auctions (silent auctions and live auctions) that help raise money for their causes. The PASS presenters are my friends and I always appreciate their input on safety. The Athena volunteers are always great as well although I don’t always get to participate since they often conflict with my schedule.
Some of the unique factors that I see are the food that is served at the events as well as the fund raisers. For example, Louisiana (LAAA) spreads the “Cajun cuisine” by having servers walk around offering delectable bites of cultural dishes to its attendees. They also have a unique fund-raising opportunity (creation of Seth Olivier) that allows bidders a $100 bid on a crawfish. The crawfish are then labeled with the users number and off to the races! The first one over the finish line helps the user win half of the pot which can add up to quite a bit!
In New Mexico they have the barrel throw contests which helps raise quite a bit of money with bidders having an opportunity to get part of the pot if they choose the correct winner! It’s a lot of fun.
Texas honors it attendees with special awards such as “Pilot of the Year”, “Operation of the Year”, etc. They have a slide show explaining the award for each recipient. It’s very special. I was happy to see many of our customers win the awards.
I’m always excited when I can do a class presentation. I didn’t realize when I reached Cape Giraudoux that I was going to do a presentation. However, I volunteered when I found out that a class was cancelled due to the government shutdown.
Many of you know that I love music. I think I enjoy it so much because it makes people smile especially if they can join in. This year I was able to participate in multiple music sessions. In Little Rock, ag pilot “Terry Haynes” played drums with his band and I was able to join in with my piano. I’ve never seen anyone dance quite as good as Brenda Watts, former NAAA president and her husband Rick. They made me tired just looking at them! I loved seeing everyone have a good time.
Another time was in Nebraska where they had a grand piano in the lobby. Along with guitar player Herve Marchadier and harmonicist Tony Schmidt, we played quite a few songs where many ag pilots sang along.
Even NAAA president Perry Hofer led us all in “Sweet Caroline” in St. Charles, LA while I was able to play along. What fun!
I have always noticed that the people in the industry are very innovative and talented. If they need something, they’re just liable to make it themselves and better yet, market and sale it!
I’m glad Jerry and I were able to travel and enjoy the last 4 months. We’re looking forward to the NAAA in Orlando where I hope the weather is warmer. Until then Fly-Ins here we go!