2019 MGB Convention Report
Ann and I just returned from the annual MGB National Convention, held in late June in Traverse City, a town in the far north of Michigan, tucked at the end of a pretty bay off Lake Michigan. We had an exciting 950 mile drive up in the MG. We had some misgivings about the selection of this site for the convention, but were pleasantly surprised and glad we made the journey.
Upon arriving, we immediately noticed the convention hotel appeared rather unusual, with an exterior that looked like a huge log cabin. It was quickly clear that it was designed to be a vacation resort for families. The place included a huge indoor waterpark and game room. Entry was Into a three story timber-framed lobby with a huge stone wall decorated with a big clock surrounded by full-sized animated animals, including a moose, bear, beaver, turtle, squirrel, and owl, plus two full size trees – very rustic and woodsy feeling. As we were checking in at the front desk, there was a sudden blast of loud noise from this wall. Upon turning around, we saw the animals suddenly breaking out into song, chatting with each other, and carrying on. Their mouths were moving, heads were turning, and even the trees started swaying with the songs. Our clerk said it goes off on the hour and lasts for about 10 minutes. It seemed rather obnoxious to me until I noticed about 10-15 youngsters looking in awe at the action. The place was certainly perfect for young families, and there were plenty of them there. Throughout the week, it made for an interesting combination – lots of families on vacation mixing with a rather mature crowd of MG car buffs.
Traverse City also turned out to be an interesting place as well. It is a real resort town, catering in both summer and winter to Michiganites looking for a recreation spot away from the big cities further south. It was sited in a picturesque spot along a lake front cove with the blue water of Lake Michigan set among lush green rolling hills on three sides. There was lots of boating on the lake, a sandy beach (the water much too cold for swimming) and all sorts of shopping and dining places in the town beside the bay. Traverse City claims to be the cherry capital of the country and we, of course, sampled some really great cherry pie at the famous Grand Traverse Pie Company. We also sampled some Moomer’s ice cream, which claims to have been voted best in the country by the Good Morning America TV show. Moomer’s was packed but worth the wait for sure.
The convention itself was done very well. Over 200 cars were there (my guess) with many I had never seen before and with every modification imaginable. There was a strong showing of cars from Michigan, plus many from Ohio, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. In addition to the many “Bs”, there were a few As, MGFs and one gorgeous RV-8. My favorite pastime is walking around the parking lot at the hotel, looking at all the cars, and chatting with owners. The site, very far north, had a long twilight allowing for checking out cars until almost 10 o’clock every evening - great fun. There were banners on balconies from various MG clubs. John Twist was on hand with his “rolling tech session,” where there seemed to be cars with different issues this time, and I always learn from his comments on each car. There were several day-long driving routes laid out in the program, and we took one very scenic drive to a lighthouse on a point where the bay joins Lake Michigan.
The car show was also nicely done. It was held on the grounds of a huge former 1890’s mental hospital complex which has some unique architecture and a beautiful treed lawn in front where the cars assembled. This complex was designed by the same group that did the St. Elizabeth’s hospital here in DC. The city is trying to convert the buildings into apartments and shopping. One building near the car show had been completed, but many other large buildings remained vacant. Again, there was a great mix of cars to examine including a lot of day-of drive-ups from all over Michigan. Food was from food trucks or restaurants inside the building.
It was a good convention in a spot far off the beaten path, at an unusual hotel, in an interesting city, and well attended with a mix of cars that were quite different from most past conventions. I will save the saga of our trip up and back for another article, but safe to say, Ann and I had a challenging drive up and back, returning in one piece with the MG. Next year’s convention is set for Calgary, Alberta, probably too far and mountainous to venture in the MG, but another scenic spot.