FMDAC Convention & Treasure Weekend
By: Betty Weeks
Anticipation, excitement, and warm feelings of friendship are the main ingredients always present at the annual FMDAC Convention, and our 18th Treasure Weekend at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio, was no exception.
How fortunate we were to enjoy the hospitality of the beautiful Raddison Hotel at Cedar Point, near the shores of Lake Erie. After a long and weary trip, whether flying or driving, the lovely rooms and hospitality of the courteous staff who greeted us ensured that our stay would be a pleasant one. Those who drove were treated to the lovely fall foliage that Mother Nature bestows upon us during this short but colorful season.
The proximity of the Cedar Point Amusement Park, the oldest and largest such park in the world, made this convention a perfect vacation spot not only for the treasure hunters, but for their families. The well kept grounds, plus hundreds of breathtaking rides, looked like a treasure hunters dream, but as in many amusement parks across the country, detecting was not allowed.
We do thank the Raddison Hotel for their hospitality and granting us special off-season rates. Friends old and new soon streamed into the reception area, where they were given a warm welcome and a smile by Duane Biller, Jill McFeeders, and their helpers at the registration table: Tod Persons, Harry and Jan Neimeyer, Cindy and Ken Weitlauf, Linda Biller, and Carl McFeeders.
Alice Bertzfield sold special convention T-shirts and hats, and by Saturday afternoon all were gone. Several disappointed customers (including me!) who had put off buying the souvenir shirts and hats were surprised to see them sold so quickly.
Duane and Jill, who were in charge of the convention, made everything seem so easy, and run so smoothly, that we forget the months of hard work and planning to accomplish this feat flawlessly and give us another well thought out, pleasurable weekend. This same group, with the addition of Mike and Sue Race at the hunt site, proved that hundreds of prizes could be given out efficiently and without error, again with a lot of forethought and organization.
At the all-day Friday Board meeting there were many ideas and suggestions as to ways to improve the FMDAC, and these will soon be implemented. The showroom quickly filled on Friday evening, and all day Saturday as detector enthusiasts filled the aisles looking at new products, chatting with all of the vendors, and filling their attractive red, white & blue bags with all of the free magazines and literature available for their perusal. The seminars and workshops were very well attended, too, as was the open FMDAC meeting on Saturday afternoon.
This year we had something new and very well accepted and supported. The Southwest Michigan Seek & Search Club have several members who are deaf. Although hearing impaired, they are ardent treasure seekers and can feel the vibration from the speaker when a detector scans over a metal object. At the suggestion of Ron Jenner, a club member who contacted Jill McFeeders about the possibility of having interpreters who had been schooled to "sign", for the first time this service was provided at the convention, enabling our hearing-impaired friends to enjoy the seminars, workshops, banquet, and hunt. Once word got out, it was immediately accepted as a wonderful idea, and contributions came pouring in. At $50 per hour for at least four interpreters, plus the cost of transportation and rooms, the expense seemed formidable. However, we immediately heard from Alan Holcombe, general manager of White's Electronics, offering to contribute any money that was necessary.
Jill told Alan that money was coming in, but any help would be appreciated. Alan, in turn, sent a new model MXT that retails for $800, to be raffled for the cause. Jill and Duane donated a silver bar. The detector raffle added $1,700 to the fund, and the silver bar raffle and monetary donations gave us enough money to ensure that we will have interpreters at next year's convention as well.
The enjoyment of our friends was a highlight of the weekend. They especially enjoyed the banquet, "heard" one of our favorite guest speakers, Ed Fedory, applauded loudly as the plaques were presented, and helped make the evening even more inspiring. We again thank Ed for another of his always excellent and interesting talks as our banquet speaker for the evening.
A very surprised Sue Race, along with Jill McFeeders, received the "Betty Weeks Perpetual Achievement Plaque," given to a woman who has done much to promote and protect the hobby, and introduce more ladies to the fun of metal detecting. Since both of these ladies have devoted years to the betterment of our hobby, Duane Biller and I could not decide a winner; so, we presented each with a plaque. Next year it will be their decision as to who will be the recipient of this coveted award.
After all of the officers and board members were presented with their plaques, thanking them for their year of volunteer work for the betterment of the hobby, it was time to present the annual President's award. I have had the privilege of presenting this prestigious honor four times, and each presentation has been made after much thought and deliberation as to the recipient(s). Searching through the past, I recalled those who were promoting our hobby even before I became more involved with the FMDAC, other than being a member.
My thoughts went back many years, to one of our Northwest Treasure Hunters Club hunts in Spokane, Washington, when we were honored by a visit from Mike Race, then FMDAC vice president, and Sue Thompson (Sallee), who at that time was president of the newly formed Western Chapter. It was Mike who really got me involved, feet first as it were, along with encouragement from Sue, to run for vice president of the Western Chapter. So, it was an honor for me to present the 2002 President's award to two very deserving people, Mike and Sue Race, who have promoted and backed our hobby for so many years, a tribute long overdue.
The American Metal Detecting Association officers, Carolyn Garrett, Bernard Grabowski, and Ron Stockman, had very thoughtfully sent a plaque to the hotel to be presented to me at the banquet by Frank Colletti, FMDAC secretary. As Frank had his own plaques to present, he decided to give me their plaque at the board meeting. It was so very thoughtful of the AMDA to present this award, showing the unity of two organizations working together with one goal: to preserve our hobby and educate those who do not fully understand and appreciate what we do. I do thank them so much. It was a nostalgic evening for me, as this was the end of my association with the FMDAC as an officer, but it was also a most enjoyable time.
A very special thank-you to Larry "Packrat" Bateham, N.W. Chapter president. For many years, Packrat has donated a special "Packrat's Nest" to his annual hunt, a much coveted prize because of the silver coins and other goodies he puts into the nest. This year, Larry outdid himself and donated a "nest" that everyone wanted to win. Because of the value, it was decided to raffle this superb donation. The nest contained nine silver dollars, two silver rounds, a Canadian silver dollar, ten silver halves, 12 silver quarters, 50 silver dimes, 10 Buffalo nickels, a "Packrat of the Northwest Button," and a stuffed packrat toy. The lucky winner was Cindy McMahon from Charlotte, North Carolina, and a member of the Silver Seekers Club.
We also thank Western & Eastern Treasures for raffling off a donated White's IDX Pro detector. All of the proceeds were presented to the FMDAC. The winner was Tim Phillips of Greensburg, Indiana.
The White's MXT detector donated by White's for the deaf fund was won by Wally Schwartz from Largo, Florida. The FMDAC would like to thank all of the publishers, manufacturers and businesses that attended and supported this convention. Without all of you these conventions would not be possible.
On Sunday morning 268 eager treasure hunters, armed with detectors, braved the cool air to begin a great hunt. Receiving instructions from our huntmaster, Duane, we were told that we had a brisk five-minute walk to the hunt site on the beach next to the famous Breakers hotel. Shortly, before 10:00 a.m. we proceeded to the hunt site, taking a moment for a last-minute check to see if our detectors were sounding OK, and then joked a bit about finding lots of silver and the coveted prize tokens. We all lined up around the area, eagerly awaiting the start signal. And then...
Frenzied activity, a blurring of figures madly swinging detectors, a pause while the sand scoop retrieved a coin... no time to see what it was, just keep going at top speed! After 15 minutes the pace slowed as hunters looked for one more coin or an overlooked token. Then all too soon, the first part of the hunt was over, and participants slowly strolled back to the headquarters, eager to see if they had found any tokens- hopefully one of the highly prized Top 40 tokens.
The time between the hunts was spent talking to treasure buddies from near and far, while those involved with coin planting were busily strewing coins and tokens for the next hunt at 1:00 p.m. After the end of the second hunt, cries of, "I have a Top 40 token!" were heard, along with delighted shouts of others that had found tokens for detectors and other prizes. I had a couple of tokens, and those around me said, "Oh, you have a couple of good ones." I have been going to these hunts for many years, but never had I found a Top 40 token. To my amazement and joy, I found I had two of them, numbers 4 and 24. I was so elated that I really didn't care what I'd won. Just the thrill of standing in the line and wondering what the blank envelope held on the prize slip inside was enough for me. No, I didn't win one of the top three prizes, but I was pleased with the two "treasure pouches" full of silver and gold coins that I received. This was my last convention hunt- and what a grand way to finish!
The efficient handling of the prize tokens by Duane and Jill, plus the help of some of the other volunteers, made quick work of handing out so many prizes, and not one mistake.
As the Convention and hunt drew to a close, it was a true closure for me. My time as an officer with the FMDAC for many years had also come to an end.
I do hope everyone had a wonderful time, and I look forward to our next Treasure Weekend at the Coeur d' Alene Casino & Conference Center in Worley, Idaho, on September 19-21, 2003. It's a beautiful area, and there's every promise of another great weekend. Until then... Thank you for helping us to keep 'em