Rene Ralston had hoped the idea of a vintage camping trailer rally in Lewis County might have merit.
She did not expect it to be as popular as it was right off the bat. When she floated the idea for the first annual Mount St. Helens Vintage Trailer Rally, being held May 5-8 at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds, all 100 available slots were quickly spoken for.
“People are chomping at the bit to get out and get their trailers out,” Ralston said.
Ralston, who owns Down River Vintage Trailer Restoration in Winlock with her husband, Jeremy, owns and camps in a 1955 Aloha vintage trailer affectionately named Tin Lizzy. Among their activities in the vintage trailer community, the couple organizes the Mount Baker Vintage Trailer Rally, Washington state’s largest annual vintage trailer rally, which has been held in Lynden for 21 years.
“What I love about rallies is you show up with this thing in common already,” Ralston said. “It creates a really cool vibe for the weekend.”
After moving Down River Vintage Trailer Restoration from Woodland to Winlock three years ago, the Ralstons decided they wanted to try creating a similar event to the popular Lynden rally in Lewis County. Rene Ralston said they decided to name the new rally the Mount St. Helens Vintage Trailer Rally to match the theme of its sister event. It is hoped that the Mount St. Helens Vintage Trailer Rally will become an annual event in Lewis County. While the Lynden rally draws a lot of vintage trailer owners from Canada, Ralston said she expects the Centralia event could become just as large because it is more centrally located within the Northwest.
“Centralia and Chehalis have some amazing history and antique shops and wonderful downtowns,” Ralston said of choosing the location. “I think the campers will really like that.”
Ralston also noted the need for a second event because collecting and restoring vintage trailers seems to be growing in popularity.
“I was surprised to see the number of new and first-time attendees, which tells me this is still a growing hobby,” Ralston said.
At this point, the Mount St. Helens Vintage Trailer rally has a waiting list of campers hoping for a spot. Ralston said they are hoping that if some of the areas of the fairgrounds dry out before the event, they may be able to fit a few more campers. But there is still a chance for the community to be part of the rally during the open house Saturday, May 7, from noon to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and allows curious passersby a chance to see inside the campers without their trailer owners having to be available to visitors all weekend.
“Every trailer comes with a story,” Ralston said. “It’s never just ‘I saw it and I bought it.’ They all come with a story. People want to proudly show their trailers. Some will be staged with vintage tow vehicles. Some will have posterboards of before and after photos. All are proud to share.”
During the open house, there will be a food truck, and three local vintage car clubs will also be joining the festivities. Ralston said anyone with a vintage trailer who did not get a spot in the rally but who would like to show off their trailer can still bring it during the open house. Vintage means anything pre-1980s, though Ralston said they will even have a section for “vintage in spirit.”
“We don’t want to exclude anyone,” Ralston said.
Visitors to the open house can come just to be entertained, but Ralston said the event can be especially useful to anyone thinking about getting into vintage trailers themselves. She said she often sees people at the Mount Baker Rally open house taking many sheets of notes since it is a good way to get their questions answered and get inspiration.
“Not one will be quite the same because people really inject their personality into the trailer and that’s what I love about it,” Ralston said.
Mount St. Helens Vintage Trailer Rally
• May 5-8 at the Southwest Washington Fairgrounds
• A public open house will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 7. The event is free and open to the public. The event will happen rain or shine
• Registration for overnight camping at the rally is closed but anyone with a pre-1980s camper who would like to show it off is welcome to display for free during the open house
• Information: downrivertrailers.com