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Tin Can Tourists hold 17th Annual Gathering at Camp Dearborn this weekend

The Tin Can Tourists anticipate their 17th Annual Gathering at Camp Dearborn May 15-18 will be their largest ever.

“In the last few years, we've been given an overflow area with 30 trailer sites, and each year the trailers we had there were one or two,” said Forrest Bone, who with his wife Jeri re-established the inactive organization in 1998 (originally organized in Tampa, FL in 1919). “Now the whole overflow area is filled, so we now have about 190 trailers and motor coaches, so all our sites are completely sold out.

“In 1998, we had only 22 trailers at our first gathering, and now we've grown to almost 200,” he said.

The annual Tin Can Tourists spring rally will hold an open house on Saturday. From 11 a.m.-3 p.m., the general public will be able to come to Camp Dearborn, at 1700 General Motors Road in Milford, to walk through a wide variety of trailers from the 1920s to the 1980s. At the very same time, Bone said, The North American Vintage Trailer and Motor Coach Show will be held as part of the Concours.

After the open house and show concludes at 3 p.m., he said, then the judging of the trailers and motor coaches will take place at that time, and the Tin Can Tourists will do an awards presentation that evening. The trailers and mobile mansions of yesteryear include a 1948 Spartanette (with polished wood interior and Art Deco curves, a 1936 Bowlus Road Chief, and a rare 1937 Curtiss Aerocar (a custom-built 1938 International Truck will be towing it). The show will also feature 1960s Airstreams, as well as Scotties and Shastas, and unique campers from GMC, Flxible and Travco.

First-time newcomers at this year's show, Bone added, will be the 1947 Glider, and the 1948 Palace Royale made in Flint (discontinued after a big fire after 1951). Those attending the open house will probably have the chance to see about 60 show entries, their year models progressing through decades from the 1940s, “and if we're lucky, it won't be pouring that day.” A hot dog vendor has been engaged this year to\provide food.

The public will also be able to attend at Camp Dearborn a flea market happening on the same day as the Tin Can Tourists gathering. The annual Friends of Camp Dearborn Flea Market will be held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, “so people who take a look at our trailers can also enjoy the flea market.”

Tin Can Tourist members participating in the gathering will be getting networking opportunities and ideas for trailer and motor coach preservation. Their activities will include a presentation Thursday night on the history of the movie drive-in since 1938, a music band and dancing on Friday night, a catered meal on Saturday, before packing up and leaving on Sunday.

“Joining this club and event will allow you to learn about restoring and caring for vintage trailers,” an invitation to the club's open house stated. “Share your passion with others.” To join, Bone advises them to go to the website.

“I think we still have a very reasonable entry fee, it takes $25 to get into the Tin Can Tourists, and receive a membership card and club decal,” he said. “It will be a $20 yearly fee after that to receive our newsletters.”

The Tin Can Tourists is an organization committed to preserving and celebrating classic trailers and motor coaches It holds annual gatherings in Florida and Michigan (with regional rallies throughout the U.S., and additional representatives in Canada, the Netherlands, France, Australia and Japan.

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