2017 North American Heartland RV Rally – Elkhart County, IN

By:  Kelly Barnett

6th Mar, 17

Have you made your reservations for the North American Heartland Rally? Still contemplating going to the rally? This is an event you don't want to miss…and once you've been to one you'll be hooked!

We attended the past two rallies in Goshen but have committed ourselves to a working camping position in Utah which makes us unable to attend this year's rally so we're counting on all of you to have a doubly good time for us!

Registration is now open for the 2017 North American Owners Rally

The Goshen area, itself, is worth a visit. With a large Amish population spread out around the area it's almost like stepping back in time. The sound of hoof beats clopping down the roads is nostalgic and relaxing. It's interesting to visit the local business establishments and find hitching posts and horse sheds in the parking lots to accommodate the local Amish customers who arrive in buggies.

Plan to spend some time before or after the rally touring the area and visiting the various Amish and Mennonite attractions and business establishments.

Just like stepping back in time...

Take advantage of the Heritage Trail Driving Tour, a scenic driving loop around Elkhart County passing through Amish communities with stops at various business establishments. Well worth the time.

If you're a quilter…you'll be in heaven! The number of quilt shops in the area will astound you. From large to small and everything in between. In addition, you can take a driving tour of all the gorgeous Quilt Gardens scattered throughout the area. For the past 10 years, over a million blooms have decorated the scenery in beautiful quilt-like patterns.

Just one of the many gorgeous quilt gardens scattered around the countryside

Spend a day in Shipshewana...there is SO much to see and do. Shop at E&S Bulk Food Store, Yoder's Meat & Cheese Store or any of the various shops lining the town's main drag. Be ever cautious of the many horse drawn buggies going up and down the roads.

Shop where the Amish shop! Aisles of bulk food items at good prices.

Spend some time at the Menno-Hof where you can learn about the faith and life of the Amish and Mennonites. You'll learn about their origins and the trials and tribulations of the journey of where they are today. Quite interesting.

The Menno-Hof - a good place to learn about the history of the Anabaptist.

Have lunch at the Auction Restaurant (yummy home-cooked comfort food!) after stopping to take in part of the livestock auction next door. It's pretty interesting to watch. After lunch stroll through aisle after aisle of merchandise at the Midwest's largest flea market. 

Fun to watch the fast pace of the livestock auctions.

Looking for a great way to end your day? Visit the Blue Gate Restaurant and Theater. Enjoy an Amish home-cooked meal and take in one of their plays. After dinner and a show, wind down with a horse and buggy ride around the local area to top off the perfect day!

A beautiful setting for a romantic dinner for two or a fun time with friends

And don't forget the fun places outside of Shipshewana like Yoder Popcorn (I LOVE their Creamy Dill popcorn seasoning!) and Deutsch Kase Haus also known as Guigisberg Cheese Factory (LOTS of yummy samples to be had!). The Essen Haus in Middlebury is a great place for a meal and there's even a camel farm in the area that sells camel soap and camel milk ice cream!

Heartland rally-goers sampling all the yummy goodies!

All that and we haven't even touched on the rally, itself, yet! Hold on to your hats and prepare for some major-league fun. Friends, Family, FOOD and Festivities…the four F's of any Heartland rally but with the North American rally it's on a MUCH grander scale.

If you're able to attend any portion of the Pre-rally, I would HIGHLY recommend you do so. It's the perfect time to do some area sight-seeing, spend some quality time with friends or invest time in starting new relationships. Attend any meet & greets (club wide, chapter or regional) you're invited to as it's a great way to meet your extended family.

2015 National Rally Appetizer Meet & Greet

There are usually several days devoted to 'Pre-rally' excursions – Amish Country tours, dinner at an actual Amish home, antique car museums, RV parts stores, collectibles and the RV Hall of Fame are just a few of the past activities that Heartland Owners have had the opportunity to participate in.

A privately owned collection of automobiles was a favorite for many Heartland Owners.

You'll find a variety of activities to keep you busy during the rally. The nice thing is that you are not obligated to do anything. You pick and choose how much or how little you want to be involved.

Seminars – Normally running between 8 am and 4 pm, these seminars are very informative and cover a wide variety of subjects from tires, fire safety and air conditioning to refrigerators, electrical and roof maintenance…and everything in-between!  Look over the agenda and choose your favorite topics to learn more about them. 

The Lippert seminar is always very informative and has a high attendance.

Lifestyle Presentations – Formerly known as "Leisure Time Activities" is a great way to learn a new craft or activity. Jewelry making, card making, line dancing, crocheting, blog writing, convection oven cooking and a Wake Up Workout are a few past classes. No matter the subject you'll be sure to have a great time!  

If you have an idea for a class or are willing to teach a class please contact Emily Rohrer, who will be coordinating the Lifestyle Presentations. You can contact Emily through the Heartland Owners forum click Here or by clicking HERE to send her a message via the forum.

The 'Craft Share' is always well attended.

Entertainment – There are always several nights of entertainment. Whether it's a singer, a DJ, a hypnotist or a guest speaker it's always fun and most certainly good for a laugh or two.

Hypnotized Heartland owners providing GOOD laughs for everyone!

Heartland Marketplace – You'll find vendors selling RV merchandise, jewelry, purses, housewares, food stuffs, stained glass windows and more. A great place to pick up a few new items for your 'home on wheels'. Of course, there are always new campers and tow vehicles on display if you're in the market for something new. 

Display coaches at the 2013 National Rally

Heartland Owners For Sale Table – A great way to purchase items (new and used) at affordable prices. Or sell your unwanted gently used items. You'll find a large variety of items like camping chairs, Dutch ovens, videos, books, camping mats, hitches and even toilets. 

Lastly, just spend time walking around, bike riding or riding in a golf cart. Stop at any/all gatherings and introduce yourself and get to know your fellow Heartlanders. The atmosphere is very laid back and everyone will welcome you with open arms.

One of many spur of the moment gatherings...some are large....some small.

It's amazing how many fifth wheel and pull-behind trailers can fit in one place…granted the Elkhart County Fairgrounds is a large venue but during the Heartland Rally it's a sea of Heartland products for as far as the eye can see.

The 'Infield' portion of the Elkhart County Fairgrounds

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Kelly Barnett

Kelly Barnett

RV There Yet Chronicles

My husband, Michael, and I have been living fulltime in our 2011 Landmark Key Largo since April of 2011 and LOVE every minute of it. 

When Michael retired from the US Army in October of 2012 (after 29 years of service) we hit the road and haven’t looked back. 

We usually work in the south Texas oilfields in the winter and spend time with our two sons and their families in the summer. We travel and sight-see as much and often as possible.