There was a lot of activity in the area of Vandalia’s Rogier Park last weekend. One hundred and one people with 29 Gold Wing motorcycles, the members of the Gold Wing Chapter I-70 Road Riders, gathered to celebrate their 30th anniversary.
The group has had similar get-togethers in the past, but they were always held at the picturesque log home of Ron and Brenda Tompkins outdoors, amid the beauty of nature and the timber edging their yard.
They were called “chili dumps,” which were just as the name suggests – people bringing their homemade chili and combining it in a huge iron kettle that hung over a fire.
As the membership has grown, Ron and Brenda decided to move the event to Rogier Park (with tables already set up under the large pavilion, plus other advantages).
Ron and Brenda shared their thoughts and experiences of the club that has brought so much enjoyment to their lives.
Gold Wing Chapter I-70 Road Riders
“It (the chapter) started back in 1984,” Ron said,”and somewhere between ’84 and ’85, we joined the association. Bob Carroll found a group down in Mt. Vernon and learned that at least 10 couples would be needed for a Gold Wing chapter.
“We went to a couple of their meetings and learned that it was a good deal, so we got a group together.” Ron said, “I helped form the group from Vandalia and that was 30 years ago in October. We just came up with the name I-70 Road Riders to identify ourselves.”
“The membership grew and grew, and we had quite a few members,” Ron said. “There are chapters in each area and initially, we had Fayette, Bond, and Effingham counties, but you can join anyone you want to.”
Through the years…
… the group has not only enjoyed riding and traveling immensely, but it has also donated to charities. They have a fellowship and for years have enjoyed meetings, events and such get-togethers as the “chili dumps” at the Tompkins, when sometimes as many as 100 attended.
Brenda recalls one time when more than 100 members were at their home for a chili gathering.
“We were in our second year when we first decided to have a chili dump here at our house the second year,” Ron said.
“Everyone brought their own home-made chili and dumped it in the pot. The more that was dumped in, the better it tasted. Everyone has a different recipe, and it has to be homemade. They brought desserts and whatever else, too.
“It grew from our chapter and kept catching on and catching on until the last two years, when we were having about 150, with family and all. And there were so many cars. The neighbors asked me when we were going to have one again; they said they enjoyed the parade.”
It got to be so much work that they moved it to the park this year.
Ron and Brenda have traveled many miles, just the two of them, going to 48 states and Canada on their Gold Wing, and have several entertaining stories to tell of their experiences.
“We have traveled to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Canada,” Brends said. “We have traveled some of it with the club, but also by ourselves.”
“We have traveled over 300,000 miles,” Ron said. “We have met a lot of interesting people. We had 101 people at our anniversary celebration yesterday. People came here from as far north as Peoria and south from Carbondale, Murphysboro,” Brenda said. “We had eight chapters come, and we had nice door prizes.”
Ron and Brenda, in Person …
… are both exceptionally talented people.
Ron designed and built their beautiful log home. It is picturesque both on the exterior and interior.
Ron said they built their home with a design that is both comfortable, rustic and welcoming, but also very beautiful with the warmth that beautifully finished woods can give.
Brenda has decorated in the same theme with furniture and décor, with the same warmth of family traditions, photos, paintings and memories, but also arranged throughout the home with the blending of warmth of family, tradition, keepsakes and comfortable neatness.
The décor also represents Ron and Brenda’s individual personalities, families and life. Brenda said that their children were grown and out of the house when they became interested in the club.
Sharing their home is “Jackie,” their little pet dog, who also rides with them at times and has a sharp-looking leather Gold Wing motorcycle vest in which she posed proudly as part of the family photo.
Ron can build beautiful things out of anything. He built a handsome trailer out of an old refrigerator to pull behind their Gold Wing, painting and decorating it to match the cycle, making it look so custom-made that it could have come out of the factory with the cycle.
He also made attractive rustic stools for their snack bar out of old, salvaged materials.
Serving the Club
Ron has served several terms as a chapter director and in other offices over the years, and Brenda, in addition to other offices served in the past, is now the treasurer. Both expressed the wish to let others take over now, to let them relax and just enjoy “being members,”
Ron and Brenda earned the State Chapter Couple honor in 1987 – a well-deserved honor that seems to be continuing as the years go by.