Travellers gathered at Casa De Fruta on March 6 to take part in several restoration workshops on how to maintain vintage trailers and campers. Paul Lacitinola, founder of the Vintage Camper Trailers club, hosted the gathering.
Lacitinola, a resident of Alverta near Sacramento, said he has had a great passion for old school trailers since his early adult years. His interest in them began when he and his wife Caroline “decided that we had little kids, so let’s try camping.”
“I was cheap and I bought a cheap little camper and everywhere we took it people were like, ‘that’s so cute,’” he said, adding that he had an old car and thought that having a restored trailer with it would look cool.
The Lacitinolas began restoring vintage trailers as a hobby. A former police officer and marketing sales manager, Lacitinola saw his hobby as something common that people do.
“We started in 2008,” he said. “We started camping and started our business in about 2011.”
Part of that business includes publishing magazines on vintage campers and trailers, but a big part of it is lectures. The most common topic is how to turn a hobby into a business, Lacitinola said.
After years of hosting Vintage Camper Trailers club gatherings, he finally decided to quit his sales job. “I took that job 20 years ago thinking this will be short-term. I’ll do it for a little while and the money was pretty decent.”
Lacitinola regrets not quitting his job sooner to dedicate more time to the business.
“We probably should have quit the day job sooner honestly because this was doing pretty well, but I had a hard time giving up the two pay checks,” he said.
While the first restoration meetup started with around 20 people, more recent gatherings now see upwards of 300 people. Lacitinola and the club host events each year in Red Bluff, San Dimas, Plymouth and Hollister.
The restoration workshops are in preparation for the annual Vintage Trailer Fest Rockabilly Rally scheduled for June at Casa De Fruta. It’s open to the community and will consist of live music, food, and a car show. It will mark the third annual Vintage Camper Trailer gathering in San Benito County.
Lacitinola said he likes to host his events at Casa De Fruta because it is spacious and it is the ideal place to fit a lot of people.
“We encourage people that have interests in joining to please do,” he said. “It’s not an exclusive club. We do not care if you have a fancy trailer and if you are thinking you might like it, just come to one of our open houses and walk through the trailers as you would at a car show.”