News From Terre Haute, Indiana


June 9, 2012

Vintage camper fans bring their hobby for Fowler Park weekend

TERRE HAUTE — Vintage campers are sheltering timeless hobbies along moving waters at Fowler Park this weekend.

Some 53 vintage campers filled three campsites along the Vigo County park’s waters, and more were rumbling in Friday afternoon, bound for the annual Vintage Camper Rally. Hauling old-style campers behind trucks and cars, participants were settling in for the weekend, erecting canopies and breaking out decks of cards.

Mitzie Goodpaster sent her granddaughter off to play with her son, and remarked that she and her husband, Melvin, had a 1968 model for their first camper soon after getting married.

“We’ve been married 35 years,” the Poland resident said, adding her husband has since retired from South Putnam High School.

These days the couple hauls around a blue and white 1972 Serro Scotty Highlander, an 800-pound model light enough to pull with a car.

“This is our new old one and it’s not finished yet,” she said. “It’s in the process.”

Across the way, co-organizers Erin Dulin and Janet Kleptz said this marks the fourth annual event for the local club, part of a national patchwork of groups who travel about the country in early-model campers. A retired postal employee, Dulin and her husband, Roger, find old units, restore them, use them a while, then sell or trade for others.

“This is our eighth vintage camper,” she said of their red and white 1955 Cree Coach. Attached to a matching canopy, the trim of which sported miniature Coca-Cola memorabilia, the Dulins’ camper bore a sign which declared, “Home is where we park it.”

Kleptz said she and her husband, Dan, got into the hobby themselves about five years ago.

“They’re unique. You’re restoring history and you meet a lot of nice people,” she said.

Like other members, her husband caught “aluminumitis,” she laughed, explaining the addiction enthusiasts develop for buying more and more campers. “I can’t seem to get him to sell, though,” she chuckled near the 1970 Go Tag-Along they’d brought Friday.

The group will open itself to visitors between 1 and 4 p.m. today, with people invited to check out their sites.

Part of Club Indiana, the group is affiliated with Vintage Camper Rally Clubs across the country. At least three other rallies occur in Indiana.

“We have people from six different states this year,” Dulin said, explaining the event continues to grow and spread among retired couples and their families.

Today’s open house is part of a weekend-long series of games and events, including a giant swap meet where participants can buy, sell and trade collectibles, parts and even campers. This year’s rally theme is “Survivor,” modeled after the television show, with member Mindy Houser supplying a park’s worth of artwork to match, Dulin said. Each of the three campsites represents a “tribe,” and competitors will vote engage in a series of games and challenges, she added.

The weekend wraps up Sunday morning with services in the old church at Fowler Village, officiated by members who happen to be missionaries, Kleptz said.

Goodpaster said the group provides a lot of fun with people of similar age and interests.

“Trying to relive our youth, possibly,” she said happily.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

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